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Discharge of patient may cause medical malpractice errors

When patients in Louisiana are discharged from the hospital and sent home, it can be a danger spot in the treatment process. That sometimes happens because many institutions throughout the country do not have organized discharge protocols that double check whether the right medication and correct instructions are being provided. When a patient is sent home with the wrong medicine or wrong instructions for care, the danger to the patient may be critical and the outcome fatal, thus generating a medical malpractice claim.

This happened in October 2013 when a female heart patient was sent home with a cancer drug that wasn't intended for her. The instructions told her to take the incorrect medicine, severe complications occurred and she died. Her daughter discovered that the two drugs had similar names but that they were for two totally different circumstances.

If there will be a home health agency participating, that might at first blush seem like a good way for any discharge errors to be discovered and corrected. However, such agencies rarely discover medication errors, and they tend to go along with the critically flawed treatment thereby contributing to the cause of the injury. In fact, there is a large disconnect in information sharing when the patient goes home and confronts treatment by home care providers.

The different parts of the medical system reportedly do not communicate with each other. Episodic treatment in different places at different times is also appreciated as leading to problematic treatment due to lack of communications. Another problem is that patients generally report not understanding their instructions on discharge. When patients call in for clarification or to report a reversal in their expected healing process, they rarely get to speak to a medical person who is familiar with the case. It is clear that in Louisiana and the other states, the system must be worked on for improvement if the medical malpractice crisis will have a chance to end.

Source: santafenewmexican.com, "Hospital discharge one of most dangerous times for patients", Jordan Rau, May 1, 2016

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