Law Office of Robert A. Miller
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Hospital discharge a dangerous time for patients

According to medical experts, patients in Oregon and nationwide are most vulnerable to complications when being discharged from the hospital. Studies show the problem is even worse for older patients with complex medical needs.

Poor transitional care occurs because of bad coordination between hospitals and home health agencies, nursing homes and other medical professionals who are charged with caring for patients after they are released. A study of Medicare inspection records by Kaiser Health News found that nearly 25 percent of home health agencies were flagged by government inspectors for inadequately reviewing new patient medications between January 2010 and July 2015. As a result, nurses missed potential harmful drug interactions that could cause bleeding, kidney damage, seizures and abnormal heart rhythms.

Studies show that other frequent post-discharge problems include patients not fully understanding their self-care instructions, poor case management at nursing homes, medication errors going undetected by pharmacies and poor care planning by home health agencies. Experts say that lack of communication is a major part of the problem. Congress appropriated $30 billion to transition the U.S. health care system to electronic health records, but none of those funds went to rehab facilities, nursing homes or home care providers. As a result, the systems are not sufficiently connected.

Not all such mistakes can be attributed to hospital negligence. Some of the fault can lie with the pharmacist that is taking phoned-in prescriptions from the hospital and fails to transcribe it properly, leaving the patient with the wrong dosage or the wrong medication entirely. A medical malpractice attorney can often be of assistance to a patient who has been harmed in such a manner.

Source: Medical Xpress, "Hospital discharge: It's one of the most dangerous periods for patients," Jordan Rau, May 6, 2016

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