Arguably, there’s nothing worse than encountering a significant hindrance to your overall health. And that’s why when people meet with unfortunate injuries and illnesses, they depend greatly on professional healthcare providers to nurse them back to being the proverbial “100%”. We put our trust in doctors and nurses, believing that they not only know what they’re doing, but that they care about our well-being as well.
It can be scary when the opposite is proven true. Late last month on ProPublica.org, Marshall Allen revealed the findings of a recent study from the office of the inspector general of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It revealed that nearly 30 percent of patients who are recovering in rehab facilities have their conditions made worse by their visits. He cites medication errors, bedsores and infections as three of the negative results that have arisen.
“Doctors who reviewed cases from a broad sampling of rehab facilities say that almost half of the 158 incidents they spotted among 417 patients were clearly or likely preventable,” reports Allen. Dr. David Classen, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Utah School of Medicine, is quoted by Allen as saying that the healthcare system is “failing” patients by allowing such high rates of harm.
The rehab facilities that were observed for the study were not directly associated with any hospitals, he goes on to note, pointing out that patients at these facilities are expected to benefit from therapy at more successful rates than those who undergo standard hospital stays. Nevertheless, rehab facilities are underperforming. Studies have shown that “more than a quarter of patients in hospitals and a third in skilled nursing facilities suffered harm related to their care.”
But what exactly constitutes as “harm”? For the purposes of this study, the medical records of 417 Medicare patients who stayed in U.S. rehab facilities in March of 2012 were selected at random. “Harm” included everything from temporary injuries to events that led to longer facility stays, permanent disability or even death. “Almost a quarter of the harmed patients had to be admitted to an acute care hospital, at a cost of about $7.7 million for the month analyzed, the study shows,” reveals Allen.
What lead to such harm? Substandard treatment, inadequate monitoring and failure to provide needed care are listed as the causes of the most harm. However, nearly half of the cases – 46 percent, to be exact, were due to medication errors. Unfortunate results such as bleeding from gastric ulcers due to blood thinners and a loss of consciousness due to narcotic painkillers were listed as examples of harm endured by patients in the rehab facilities study.
Lapses in routine monitoring accounted for another 40 percent of cases of harm. Bedsores, constipation and falls were listed as results of such negligence. And while no deaths were reported, as a result, many patients were forced to endure unnecessarily longer roads to recovery. “The inspector general is recommending that Medicare and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality work together to reduce harm to patients by creating a list of adverse events that occur in rehab hospitals,” informs Allen.
The team, here at Allegiant Experts, would be interested in hearing from attorneys who are representing patients who have suffered harm at the hands of medical misconduct within rehabilitation facilities. It’s truly important to minimize such instances of harm as much as humanly possible. To learn more about our clinical expert services or our experience with hospital and medical malpractice cases, please don’t hesitate to contact us at 407-217-5831.