Suffering patient touching his backAfter a major surgery, procedure, or health crisis, a patient will be transferred out of the hospital to either their own home or a care facility. While this transfer should be done with a high degree of care to ensure that the patient continues receiving the medical attention that they need, too often, errors are made during the transition process resulting in adverse patient events. In fact, an article published in The Washington Post reads that the transition period is “one of the most dangerous periods for patients.”


When Errors Happen During the Transition Process


According to the same article cited above, a 2013 study that analyzed the rate of error when transitioning patients from hospitals to nursing homes found that more than one-third of facilities involved in the study failed to assess patients’ needs, create a plan for patients’ care, and follow through on the plan.


Another study, published by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, found that nearly 20 percent of patients experience an adverse event within three weeks of being discharged. The study further found that the majority of these adverse events were related to medication errors, although HAIs – or hospital-acquired infections – and procedural complications were also cited.


And yet another study, published by Harvard Health Publications, which followed 851 patients discharged from hospitals, found that half of the patients experienced one or more medication errors during their first month at home.

Why Adverse Events Happen


There are a number of factors that contribute to the risk of a patient experiencing an adverse event. For example, nearly 40 percent of patients are discharged while test results are pending, with approximately the same number being discharged with a plan that diagnostic workup will continue as an outpatient – this puts the patient at risk sans timely follow up.


Another reason that adverse events occur is due to the fact that communication pathways break down between hospitals and care facilities, including at-home care professionals, like home healthcare nurses. Patients’ medications may not be properly recorded, resulting in a mix up that could be deadly. Doctors tend to not follow up with patients as they should after they have been released from the hospital, which explains why a large number of discharged patients often end up back in the hospital shortly after being released.

The Importance of Appropriate Care During the Transition Process


Being released from the hospital is generally a good thing; patients are often much more comfortable in their own homes or in care facilities than they are within hospital beds. That being said, proper communication and due diligence of hospital and care facility professionals is essential to patient wellbeing. If you or a loved one has experienced an adverse health event during the transition process – like a devastating medication error – that you believe could have been prevented but for an act of carelessness or negligence, you may have a suit for damages.


At Lovenberg & Associates, P.C., Douglas Lovenberg and team will advocate for you. To learn more about your rights to file a claim and how our experienced Boston medical malpractice attorneys can help, contact us at 617-973-9950 today.