The Dangers Associated with Hospital Discharges
By: Cohen, Placitella & Roth @ Jul 25, 2016
If asked when the most dangerous time for patients is, one might answer that it is on the operating table, when being admitted into the ER, when undergoing anesthesia, or even when delivering a baby. But statistics show that one of the most dangerous times for patients is the time that might seem the safest: when the patient is discharged from the hospital.
The Dangers of Being Discharged
Being discharged from the hospital can be dangerous for many reasons, despite the fact that it’s the time during a patient’s recovery that they are not supposed to need intensive care (hence the discharge). But during the discharge process, things do not always go smoothly.
Consider the story of Joyce Oyler, as reported on by Philly.com. About two weeks after Oyler was discharged from the hospital, her nose and bowels began seeping blood, and sores developed in her mouth and throat. Seeking to uncover the cause of such serious health problems, her daughter discovered that the problem seemed to lie in the medications that Oyler was taking; she had been taking a toxic medication, a mistake that was made she was incorrectly prescribed the medication based on a filling error (she was supposed to receive a drug with a similar sounding name but a different purpose).
Oyler’s story isn’t an anomaly; medication errors during the discharge process happen all too frequently. In fact, one analysis found that 3,016 home health agencies had “inadequately reviewed or tracked medications for new patients.” And that is not the only transitional care concern – many people require at-home care services (which they do not get), errors are made on patients’ charts when being transferred to a long-term care facility, and patients do not always attend vital follow up appointments. Another assessment found that a third of nursing home facilities did not assess patients’ needs properly, nor devise a plan for their care and follow through with that plan.
How You Can Protect Yourself from a Dangerous Discharge Error
The story told above of Joyce Oyler is a tragic one. While you cannot prevent healthcare professionals from making errors, you can take steps to improve your chances of healthy recovery after being released from a hospital. These include:
- Talk to your doctor. Talk to your doctor about your recovery and what you should expect throughout the process. Schedule follow up appointments and be sure to attend them.
- Double check your medication list. Make a list of all of the medications you are taking while in the hospital, and then compare this list to ones you are taking upon being released. If anything doesn’t add up, do not just assume it is fine – ask about it.
- Be proactive. Play an active role in your care plan once being released from the hospital. Ask trusted loved ones to play an active role as well by talking with your doctor and home healthcare/care facility nurse, monitoring your progress, and double checking your medications.
Lawyers Ready to Serve You
We want to make sure that your discharge goes as smoothly as possible. If something happens that causes you harm, and you believe that harm would not have occurred but for an act of medical malpractice, call the law firm of Cohen, Placitella & Roth, P.C. for a free case consultation. Our talented Philadelphia medical malpractice attorneys will fight for you!