Rehab Hospitals Cause Injury

Rehab hospitals: Can’t live with them, can’t live without them. You are out of the “real” hospital and on your way to recovery, which is encouraging, but you are not yet in your own home, and the place still has a hospital vibe. Nevertheless, if a patient has recently had surgery, a stroke, or a bad injury, a rehabilitation facility can help recover movement, flexibility, strength, cognitive function, or speech. It is typically a more comfortable setting than a hospital and can be the perfect transition for someone who is not quite ready to be alone. It can also be less than perfect. A recent government report announced that approximately 30 percent of patients in rehab hospitals suffered an infection, medication error, bedsore, or similar type of harm as a direct result of the care they received at such a facility.

Some rehab facilities are affiliated with hospitals. Others are not. For admission purposes, all typically require that patients can handle at least a few hours daily of physical and occupational therapy, five days a week. That holds true whether a patient simply needs to increase their mobility after a knee replacement or faces the significant hurdle of learning how to function with an injured spinal cord or post-amputation. Because this is a transitional phase, its often presumed that a patient at this stage is healthier than a patient in a hospital or nursing home. Unfortunately, it seems that presumption has a tendency to translate into poor monitoring, over-medicating, substandard treatment, inadequate care plans, and more.

The report was conducted by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) of the Department of Health and Human Services, which examined a nationally representative sample of 417 Medicare patients who had stayed in a U.S. rehabilitation facility. The findings varied in severity, but ranged from temporary injury to an adverse event that required a prolonged stay, that led to a permanent disability, or even that ended in death. The study found that almost 25 percent of the patients who were harmed by the rehab hospital had to go to an acute care hospital, costing $7.7 million.

The report concluded that substandard treatment, inadequate monitoring, and failure to provide needed care caused the most harm among patients. A shocking 46 percent were related to errors in medication, such as blood thinners that caused gastric ulcer bleeding and narcotic painkillers that caused a loss of consciousness. Then there’s the 40 percent of harmed patients who went unnoticed for a while. Thanks to lapses in routine monitoring, they had recovery setbacks due to bedsores, constipation, and falls.

With almost half of the incidents billed as “clearly or likely preventable,” high-quality care is possible. If you have any questions about this topic, or if you believe that a rehab facility may be responsible for your injury or for the wrongful death of a loved one, the attorneys at Wapner Newman can help. For almost 40 years, we have been the trusted advocates for countless personal injury victims and their families throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. We offer risk-free consultations and work on a contingency basis, which means that we do not require you to pay any fees until we have secured a recovery on your behalf. We encourage you to contact us today by calling 1-800-LAW-6600 or filling out a free case evaluation form.