Many people imagine nursing homes or assisted living facilities when they hear about neglect in the healthcare system. But these are not the only healthcare facilities that can neglect their patients. Hospital patients can also suffer neglect as a result of substandard medical care. If you or a loved one has been neglected during a hospital stay, it is important to consult with an experienced New Port Richey medical malpractice attorney about your legal rights. The Dolman Law Group has been protecting the rights of medical malpractice victims across Florida for more than four decades.
There are many different ways in which neglect by hospital staff can adversely impact a patient’s health. Learn more about the risks of inpatient hospital stays, and when staff members’ conduct can make them liable for medical malpractice.
Infections Acquired in the Hospital
Any hospital stay carries a risk of infection. The concentration of ill patients, bacteria, and other germs all increase the risk that anyone who even visits the hospital could acquire an infection. This risk can be higher for patients and staff who spend long periods of time confined within the hospital. This risk can also be exacerbated by insufficient sanitation practices within the hospital premises. Local 10 examined hospital grades issued by the independent non-profit group Leapfrog. Leapfrog issues letter grades (A, B, C or D) based upon a hospital’s ability to protect its patients, medical errors, policies and procedures, and other safety considerations. All Broward Health hospitals – and every Baptist Health hospital in Miami-Dade County – received a C grade. Only five percent of hospitals nationwide received the low D grade, and three of these were in Southern Florida. Jackson North Medical Center in North Miami Beach received the D grade due to an “extremely high” infection rate.
If the administration of a hospital fails to implement reasonable safety precautions or sanitation measures to reduce the risk of infection, it may be found negligent, and therefore be liable for the financial losses a patient suffers due to an infection acquired in that hospital. Errors on the part of doctors, nursing staff, or even janitorial staff can also increase the risk of infection. Hospitals are liable for the actions employees commit within the scope of their employment. As a result, medical malpractice or negligence in sanitation practices can incur liability to the hospital which employs negligent employees.
Another one of the Florida facilities with a D rating – the University of Miami Hospital – was given its low rating due to poor patient communications, and a lack of technology to prevent medication errors. Both of these conditions increase the risk of medical malpractice. Poor communication between patients, doctors, and nursing staff can increase the risk that the patient will be given an incorrect medication or an incorrect dosage of the right medication. According to the Journal of Community Hospital Internal Medicine Perspectives, preventable medication errors impact more than seven million patients annually across the United States. These errors cost approximately $21 billion per year. Failure to take reasonable measure to prevent medication errors can lead to a finding of negligence by a doctor, pharmacist, or hospital.
Poor communication can also prevent patients from receiving other vital care services, such as being moved frequently to prevent bedsores, walking to build strength after a surgery, or even basic hygiene practices. Many patients in the hospital require assistance in order to bathe or brush their teeth. These are important practices for maintaining a patient’s overall health. A facility which fails to facilitate these activities can be found negligent.
Hospitals are paid and certified to render health care to members of the public. Because of this, they have a legal obligation to meet a duty of care when rendering these services. Hospitals must have sufficient staff to provide appropriate care to patients. This means that a sufficient number of doctors and surgeons must be available to make a diagnosis and perform medical procedures. Nursing staff must also be sufficient to meet patients’ needs, to execute doctors’ orders, and to perform regular checks on patient health. Janitorial and maintenance staff, too, must be sufficient to keep clean premises in working order. Failures to provide any of these services can make a hospital liable for financial losses a patient sustains as a result of insufficient staffing.
Nor is it enough for a hospital to simply employ a sufficient number of staff members. The staff members who render patient care must be qualified to do so. For complicated cases, this may require doctors who are board-certified in a particular specialty or have specialized experience in a particular area of medicine. Patients in Intensive Care Units and cardiac units often require a higher level of care which is best provided by a specialist in the relevant area of medicine. Similarly, nursing care in these units may require a higher level of experience or education. Nurses, too, can become qualified to render cardiac or intensive care nursing services. Patients can be injured by improper diagnoses or treatments, or nursing care which did not meet their medical needs. If a hospital hired inexperienced staff to work in these critical units, it can be found negligent for medical malpractice committed by its doctors or nurses.
Experienced Medical Malpractice Attorneys to Aggressively Defend Your Personal Injury Claim
Patients in hospitals have extensive needs, and hospitals have a legal duty of care to meet in rendering the services a patient needs. Failure to do so can lead to a finding of neglect or medical malpractice. Victims of medical malpractice have legal rights under Florida law. They are legally entitled to be compensated for all losses resultingfrom their injuries, including long-term medical care and rehabilitation; decreased future earning potential, and all other costs which are attributable to the negligent medical diagnosis or treatment. The Dolman Law Group has decades of experience in protecting the rights of medical malpractice victims in and around the Clearwater area. Call (727) 451-6900 today to schedule your free consultation with an experienced, aggressive brain injury attorney.