According to AllLaw.com, lawsuits involving medical malpractice are among the most complicated of all personal injury cases. Patients who are hospitalized can be particularly vulnerable due to the enormity of the facility and the number of staff members that come into contact with the patient. It is all too easy for errors to be made when treating a patient in the hospital. A few common negligent hospital behaviors that lead to medical malpractice include:
Many hospitals are understaffed which leads to overworked employees who may not have the necessary training or experience to properly treat a patient. This can lead to improperly dispensed medication, misdiagnosis or even neglect. It is the hospital’s responsibility to ensure that their employees are properly educated, trained and scheduled appropriately. Communication errors are also common, so it pays to speak up if something does not seem right. For example, if you receive a different colored pill than you did the day before, double-check with the hospital employee before taking the medicine. Additionally, if staying overnight in a hospital, have a family member or friend stay with you at all times.
Policy and Procedural Failure
Failure to follow proper policies and procedures, or failure to even have those procedures in place, can lead to medical errors causing patients harm. Hospitals should have clear instructions for inpatient and outpatient care in addition to preparing a patient for surgery, feeding and cleaning patients, etc. The hospital also has a responsibility to train employees on these procedures. It is common for errors to occur in the area pharmacological pain management; antibiotic therapy; or, delay in getting the appropriate diagnostic tests performed in a timely manner. Again, when you are sick, it’s important to have someone at the hospital with you advocating for your safety and health. A patient, or a patient’s loved one, has every right to question the amount of pain medicine being administered to a patient; or, ask if the health care provider is aware of the patient’s allergies to specific medications.
Part of the hospital procedures should include maintaining a clean, hazard-free environment. Hospital employees that come into contact with patients are expected to wear gloves, scrubs, routinely wash their hands, properly dispose or clean used items. Failure to maintain a clean environment can lead to patients acquiring viruses or bacterial infections. Common hospital-borne illnesses include pneumonia, C.difficile and MRSA. You should feel comfortable requesting that health care providers wash their hands before caring for your child; or, asking to be moved from an area that appears dirty, un-kept or where others have infectious illnesses.
Failure to Follow Advance Directives
The Joint Commission, a nationwide organization that accredits various medical facilities, requires that all hospitals follow strict procedures for advance directives. Advance directives are documents outlining a patient’s wishes for future health decisions. These documents can include a living will or a power of attorney. These are also known as JCAHO directives. The Joint Commission also mandates that hospitals provide educational materials on advance directives upon admittance and that the hospital maintains detailed policies on handling these important documents.
The attorneys at Wilson Law, P.A. have years of experience with medical malpractice and understand that hospital errors can seriously affect your well-being. If you’ve been injured or have become ill due to hospital negligence please contact us for a FREE consultation.