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Recently, the office of the inspector general of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reviewed the records of 417 randomly selected Medicare patients who stayed in American rehab facilities in March of 2012. Researchers analyzed the results and issued a government report. The study found that one third of the patients suffered from preventable harm—a total of 158 incidents.
Doctors who reviewed the data found that almost half of the 158 incidents were clearly preventable. Nearly 30 percent of patients suffered from medication error, bedsores, infection, or some other type of harm as a direct result of negligent care that they received. The events identified in the study varied in severity, ranging from temporary, minor injuries, to events that required prolonged medical stays, permanent disability, and even fatality. According to infectious disease specialist Dr. David Classen, we are fooling ourselves if we claim to have made any improvements. He states that if the first rule of providing medical treatment is “do no harm,” we are clearly failing.
A rehab hospital is a place where patients go to recover. Unlike regular hospitals, procedures and surgeries are not performed there. Patients often go to a rehab hospital to recover from surgery, stroke, or injury.
Rehab facilities often require patients to undergo at least three hours of physical and occupational therapy per day, five days per week. Patients at rehab hospitals are assumed to be healthier than patients at general hospitals or assisted living facilities. As a result, according to Amy Ashcraft, team leader for the rehabilitation hospital study, people tend to underestimate the types of harm that can occur among these patients.
According to the doctors who reviewed the cases for the OIG study, most harms were caused by substandard treatment, inadequate monitoring, and failure to provide needed care. Around 46 percent of incidents resulted from medication errors, including bleeding from gastric ulcers due to blood thinners, and a loss of consciousness linked to opioid painkillers. Another 40 percent of cases were traced to lapses in routine monitoring that resulted in bedsores, constipation, or falls.
Although these harms which occurred most frequently were relatively minor, they could have a “domino effect” on patients, leading to more severe and permanent harms.
Not only did patients suffer as a result of providers’ negligence, but approximately one fourth of all patients had to be admitted to an acute care hospital, costing about $7.7 million in unnecessary costs—for the sole month analyzed in the study.
Whenever we go to the hospital, or place a loved one there, we are placed in a very vulnerable position. We must trust that the physicians and staff are well trained and alert, and will do a reasonable job. Unfortunately, understaffing and cost cutting has resulted in an epidemic of hospital negligence. Medical malpractice refers to any kind of malpractice from surgical errors to hospital acquired infections.
If you suspect that you are the victim of hospital negligence, call the South Jersey medical malpractice lawyers at Folkman Law Offices P.C. To schedule a free consultation, call us at 856-354-9444 or contact us online today.