If you’ve ever been in a hospital, the best time of your stay is when your doctor walks into your room and tells you that you are being discharged. In most cases, this means that the condition that caused you to enter the hospital has been treated sufficiently to allow you to continue to manage any remaining symptoms or follow-up treatments at home or as an outpatient.
But, to quote sports commentator Lee Corso: “Not so fast!”
In a study of adverse events that occur after a patient is discharged, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality found that “being discharged from the hospital can be dangerous.” The Agency, which is a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, quotes a study that says almost 20 percent of patients discharged from a hospital suffer adverse events within three weeks of leaving the facility. The study also found that almost 75 percent of these events could have been prevented or at least been less serious.
While some of these statistics can likely be blamed on the patients themselves for not following post-discharge orders, many of the cases studied can only be blamed on the hospital and medical personnel. A report from the Connecticut Department of Public Health cites four categories of adverse events that account for 88 percent of those reported in 2013. Those included:
- Pressure ulcers that happened while in the facility;
- Falls that occur while in the facility;
- Perforations that occur during surgical procedures; and
- Foreign objects left in a patient after surgery.
Obviously, few, if any, of these events can be blamed solely on the patient. Even medication errors in dosage, which should be the patient’s responsibility, can be the result of the facility’s failure to effectively communicate post-discharge instructions.
In the best of all worlds, a hospital stay will achieve its purpose: to heal or at least manage an illness or injury. But if you or a loved one has left a facility only to end up in a worsened condition than upon admission, the possible fault of the facility in the chain of events should be investigated.
A law firm with experience in hospital negligence and medical malpractice cases might be helpful in determining whether the facility owes you any compensation.