Actions that injure patients should never happen in a hospital setting. But negligent acts leading to physical harm too often occur in the very facilities intended to save lives, cure illness, and heal injuries. A failure to act can also be a type of negligence, and is especially grievous when abuse is allowed to occur in an assisted living center or nursing home. In the worst cases of hospital negligence, wrongful death can result.
For these reasons, it is important to be aware of the top signs that a hospital or care center may be negligent. With further questions, reach out to a lawyer experienced in medical malpractice to discuss the details of your case.
What Is Negligence in a Hospital or Care Center?
Negligence is a failure to use reasonable care, which results in harm to another person. A hospital is expected to maintain a reasonably safe environment for patients. When this does not happen—and a patient is harmed as a result—a hospital can be found to be negligent.
Hospitals and their employees must deliver treatment that meets or exceeds the standard of care. For hospital negligence to be shown, it must be determined that a standard of care was not met. Under many circumstances, a hospital or other medical treatment facility can be held responsible for the negligent actions of its employees. Physician and nursing malpractice, specialist, therapist, or surgeon errors, custodial staff mistakes, and even failures made by administrative personnel can fall under hospital negligence.
Negligence in a hospital or care center most commonly includes:
- Misdiagnosis, failure to diagnose, or diagnosing too late
- Anesthesia errors
- Unsterilized equipment
- Birth injuries
- Nursing errors
- Failure to properly monitor patients
- Violation of patient consent
- Low quality, poorly-maintained, or faulty medical equipment
- Medication dosing or prescription errors
- Surgical injuries
- Slippery walkways, or obstacles in walking paths
- Spinal cord injuries
- Injuries during pediatric heart surgery
- Emergency room errors
Hospital negligence usually results from either an employee error, or from an administrative failure to create a safe environment. If the negligent doctor or nurse was an employee of the hospital, if more than one person on the medical team was responsible for the error, if an administrative error directly led to injury, or if a hospital staff member negligently performed a task assigned by their supervisor, then the healthcare facility may be held liable for negligence.
Hospitals are not the only medical facilities at which negligence can occur. Nursing homes, long-term care facilities, birth centers, health clinics, and other places designed for healthcare are all subject to the standards of care a patient should expect to receive. If you are researching facilities for you or a loved one, learn more about how to find complaints filed against a hospital or nursing home in Pennsylvania.
Most Common Signs of Negligence in a Hospital
Let’s look at some of the visible warning signs that a hospital or other type of care center is allowing negligence to take place under its roof. Subpar healthcare should never be considered normal. If you have that “not quite right” feeling about the medical care you are receiving, do not hesitate to reach out to another facility for a second opinion, or speak with a personal care physician you know and trust.
We will cover some of the top signs of hospital malpractice in the following text. But keep in mind that these are not the only signs of negligence—and not every sign on the list conclusively indicates that negligence is at play. Proving hospital negligence requires a great deal of legal expertise, and further questions can best be handled by your medical malpractice attorney.
The red flags discussed below will be divided into categories of Patient Safety, Staff Issues, and Patient Medical Care—three of the most common areas in which negligence can be observed in a hospital or care center.
- Broken equipment
- Property in disrepair, including stairways, elevators, chairs, and bathrooms
- Disregard of patient safety standards
- Slippery or obstructed walkways
- Lack of signs to warn of wet floors
- Failure to use bed rails and other measures for fall-risk patients
- Lack of monitoring of high-risk patients
- Improper use of physical restraints
- Improper use of anesthesia
- Lack of fire and safety alarms
- Spills not cleaned immediately
- Staff members who are rude, complaining, absent, or visibly exhausted or distressed
- Long response time when a patient calls for help
- Poorly-trained staff members who have difficulty answering questions
- Overworked or underpaid staff with obvious job dissatisfaction
- Lack of supervision of staff members
- Lack of communication between those involved in a patient’s care
- Miscommunication between nurses and physicians
- Consistently poor bedside manner among staff
Patient Medical Care
- Early patient discharge
- High infection rates and undiagnosed infections
- Enduring pain after surgery
- Failure to properly take vital signs
- Lack of the equipment needed to diagnose or treat
- Inattention and extremely long waiting times in an ER
- Unnecessary surgery
- Infrequent nurse and doctor visits
- Receiving the wrong medication, wrong dose, or medication at the wrong time
- Mistakes on medical charts and records
- Nurses failing to report a patient’s complaints and symptoms to the physician
- Lack of follow-up
How Lawyers Can Help Fight Hospital Negligence
At Shrager & Sachs, we have witnessed how medical malpractice law can help make hospitals and healthcare centers safer for patients. In 1991, our founder David Shrager won a case which was a historic example of a hospital being held liable for malpractice.
In this case, Thompson v. Nason Hospital, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that hospitals and their parent corporations can be held liable for medical negligence. This important ruling was made in favor of Thompson, and established direct liability against hospitals for negligence in the state of Pennsylvania.
As personal injury lawyers with a history of accomplishment in medical malpractice cases, we are continually encouraged to see examples of improvement in healthcare safety. We maintain a commitment to using our position as attorneys to bring attention to areas of hospital safety that can be made better. If you have questions, we are ready to answer them.