Mistakes Made at Hospital Discharge Cause Patients to Suffer Complications
Most patients feel relief when they are discharged from a hospital and are anxious to return home. Unfortunately they do not realize what a dangerous time this is for their health. Mistakes made at the hospital during discharge or in receiving follow-up treatment at home or in a nursing home can cause patients to suffer serious medical complications that can lead to their deaths.
Medical Errors That Occur at and After Hospital Discharge
Many patients suffer further problems within the first few weeks of returning to their home or nursing home after being hospitalized. Many of their complications are caused by medical errors. Some of these include:
- Discharged too early. Unfortunately some decisions on discharging a patient are based on insurance coverage rather than quality care, increasing the risk of further injuries and illnesses. Some patients are released when test results are pending or with their diagnostic workup to be completed outpatient—dependent on timely and complete follow-up treatment happening.
- Hospital acquired-infections. Acquiring an infection while in the hospital is a common complication. Patients can develop surgical site infections, pneumonia, urinary tract infections, and bloodstream infections—with potentially deadly results.
- Medication errors. Often a patient's dosage is changed or they are given new medications while in the hospital. These drugs may not be adequately explained at discharge. In addition, home health care workers and nursing home staff may not review and track the patient’s medications and changes or notice when patients are taking a dangerous combination of medicines that could cause complications or serious side effects.
- Poorly explained instructions. At discharge, hospital staff is supposed to give patients detailed explanations of follow-up treatment needed and their medication instructions. When instructions are not explained clearly, patients are in danger of developing complications.
- Improperly prepared discharge summaries. An accurate discharge summary provides crucial information to the patient, his caregivers, and his treating physicians regarding his medical care. Unfortunately, many are missing relevant information or hospital staff fails to provide one to patients.
- Lack of communication. While most hospitals and major medical centers use electronic medical records that help providers stay connected, many nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, and home health care providers do not utilize these systems. When multiple health care providers are treating a patient without communicating with each other and reviewing medical records to understand the patient’s complete health needs, the patient can be harmed.
These types of errors have already caused patients to suffer serious complications or die—and can constitute medical malpractice. If a family member or you believe your doctor may have committed malpractice, you need an experienced medical malpractice attorney to help you obtain the compensation you could be entitled to. Call me at 888.716.8021 to schedule a free consultation to learn how I can assist you.