Care at rehab hospitals may be harmful to patients

The idea of going to a rehabilitation hospital is so that patients can continue to receive quality health care after they’ve been discharged from the hospital but aren’t ready to go home yet. Some patients with chronic illnesses may also have conditions that can be improved in a rehabilitation facility instead of a hospital. Sometimes, however, patients end up suffering even more harm in these specialized units.

According to a government report, nearly a third of patients in rehab facilities have suffered from such things as infections, bedsores, medication errors, and other harm due to the care received. Doctors who reviewed these cases determined that nearly fifty percent of the incidents were likely preventable.

The study was conducted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and centered on rehabilitation facilities that had no association with hospitals. Most rehab facilities require that patients be able to participate in at least three hours per day of occupational and physical therapy, and these are supposed to be safer choices than nursing homes. Unfortunately, a portion of those injured either required longer stays in the facility to heal or had to be transferred to an acute care hospital for treatment.

Many cases in which patients suffered harm were found to be caused by lapses in routine monitoring of patients. These facilities employ workers with various degrees of competence, and each patient needs to be monitored by a physician. When the physician is unavailable or skilled nursing is spread too thin, there are usually problems.

When a loved one is checked into one of these facilities, it’s usually best if there is a family member nearby that can help monitor care and act as a patient advocate. The family member should understand the daily schedule at the facility and try to be present when the physician comes to visit. If staff isn’t responsive to requests, the facility’s administrator may need to be contacted. In the most extreme circumstances, emergency services may need to be called.

Rehabilitation facilities have value as a step between the hospital and home when they are a reputable facility that is providing quality care. However, if the patient’s needs aren’t being met or, even worse, the patient is suffering further harm by being in the facility, something needs to be done quickly. Working with an attorney can protect your loved ones.

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