Houston Methodist Willowbrook Hospital medical malpractice lawyer/attorney

 

Since December 2013, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services surveyors have cited has cited Houston Methodist Willowbrook Hospital with five deficiencies

 
August 16, 2017

As a Houston, Texas medical malpractice lawyer, I have represented a number of clients in investigating negligence claims involving Houston Methodist Willowbrook Hospital.

About the hospital

Houston Methodist Willowbrook Hospital opened in December 2000, at 18220 State Highway 249, in Houston, Harris County, Texas.

It is a 312-bed hospital that advertises itself as a regional referral hospital offering services including emergency care, cardiology, orthopedics, sports medicine, women’s services, neurology, oncology, and primary and general medicine.

Deficiency citations by Medicare and Medicaid

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services routinely inspects hospitals and issues reports containing statements of deficiencies, if any are identified.

Since 2013, Houston Methodist Willowbrook Hospital has received a total of five violations.

On December 6, 2013, the hospital received a statement of deficiency concerning its infection control program. The surveyor observed that the hospital failed to have systems in place to ensure that partition curtains in patient rooms were cleaned. In addition, the hospital was found deficient because its staff failed to use proper aseptic technique when preparing IV medications for administration, and failed to wash hands after removing gloves for handling clean equipment.

Also on December 6, 2013, a statement of deficiency was critical of Houston Methodist Willowbrook Hospital’s contracted services for hemodialysis. The surveyor noticed expired items in the stock room, including testing strips used for testing feedwater used on hemodialysis patients for total chlorine and the presence or absence of blood.

The final violation on December 6, 2013 concerned dietary services. When a chef and clinical nutrition manager took the surveyor through the kitchen, there were a number of food items that were improperly labeled or stored. One cooler contained molded strawberries and numerous food items were expired.

More recently, on December 18, 2015, a site surveyor sent by Medicare/Medicaid cited Houston Methodist Willowbrook Hospital for two violations.

Both violations arise from the care provided to a 19-year-old pregnant woman who was evaluated at the hospital because she was having contractions every 10 minutes and leaking clear vaginal fluid. The medical records reflect that her she was in pain, her membranes had ruptured, and she was 1.5 cm dilated with 90% effacement, and station -2.   The woman asked to be transferred to a different hospital in the Houston area, so her OB/GYN physician could handle the delivery. Instead of arranging a safe appropriate transfer, the surveyor noted that the patient was discharged to go to the other hospital in her private vehicle.

The first violation was an inappropriate transfer. The surveyor found that the hospital failed to contact the receiving hospital to confirm that it would accept the patient and that appropriate treatment was available, prior to sending the patient. The surveyor also found that Houston Methodist Willowbrook Hospital failed to send the relevant patient information to the new hospital to ensure continuity of care and to minimize delay in treatment. The surveyor concluded that this “failed practice had the potential for harm to the patient and unborn child.”

The second violation was a lack of stabilizing treatment. The surveyor concluded that this pregnant woman should’ve been capped at the hospital for delivery of the baby and placenta, considering the fact that the mother came into the hospital with ruptured membranes and complaints of pain. Instead, she was sent in her own private vehicle to another hospital, where she delivered her baby less than three hours after she was released from Houston Methodist Willowbrook Hospital.

Challenges in getting medical records

Many of our clients have expressed frustration at the difficulty and expense of obtaining medical records from this hospital. From my experience in ordering medical records from this facility for my clients, I understand their frustration.

As an experienced medical malpractice attorney, my firm knows how to efficiently and cost-effectively order medical records. Under Texas law, if a patient or authorized representative orders medical records that are available electronically, and requests to them in electronic format, the total cost will typically be less than $100. On the other hand, a paper copy of medical records can cost many hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

Houston Methodist Willowbrook Hospital outsources its medical records request fulfillment to an out-of-state company called Ciox Health, which is located in Alpharetta, Georgia. Like our clients, we have had some interesting experiences with Ciox Health.

In one recent case, we ordered medical records in electronic format from Houston Methodist Willowbrook Hospital. We were sent four CDs and an invoice for nearly $4,000. Of course, I immediately disputed the bill and brought the relevant Texas law to the attention of Ciox Health. After a number of communications, they sent a revised invoice for less than $100. I wonder if a patient ever received an improper invoice like that and how that would be handled.

We have also found that this hospital and its records vendor, Ciox Health, has a curious way of responding to medical records requests where some records are electronically created and maintained and others are handwritten. Even though federal laws and regulations have led hospitals to transition to an electronic medical record system, some hospitals, like this one, have some limited handwritten, or non-electronic medical records.

Ciox Health has informed our office that if even one page of medical records from Methodist Willowbrook is handwritten, then they will not provide any records electronically, which triggers the much higher, sometimes astronomical, fee. Our law firm has devised a method of requesting this hospital’s records that forces compliance with Texas law.

We are here to help

When it comes to the possibility of filing a lawsuit against Houston Methodist Willowbrook Hospital, it makes good sense to have an experienced Houston, Texas medical malpractice lawyer represent you. For a free consultation about your potential case, call Painter Law Firm, in Houston, Texas, at 281-580-8800.

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Robert Painter is an attorney at Painter Law Firm PLLC, where he focuses practice on filing medical malpractice and wrongful death lawsuits against hospitals, doctors, surgeons, dentists, pharmacies, and other healthcare providers.

Robert Painter

Robert Painter is a medical malpractice lawyer at Painter Law Firm PLLC.

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