Any time we accept representation in a new case, we obtain all of the relevant medical records for careful review, and also thoroughly investigate reports of prior instances of inappropriate care at the hospital at issue. It is always good to know whether an incident is isolated or part of a broader pattern of conduct.
In addition to the court records maintained by the Harris County District Clerk, another excellent source of information is the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
As a Houston medical malpractice attorney, I have handled numerous cases involving various hospitals in the Memorial Hermann Hospital System.
Medicare and Medicaid Surveyor Uncovered Deficiencies
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services dispatches surveyors to visit accredited hospitals. When it comes to Memorial Hermann, some surveyor citations are indexed under the system name, Memorial Hermann Hospital System, while others are indexed under the individual facility names.
The system itself has received Medicare/Medicaid citations for nine violations during surveyor visits, since January 2011.
In January 2011, the surveyor found that the on-call surgeon at a Memorial Hermann hospital failed to come to the emergency room eight hours after he was called by an emergency physician to see a patient with a leaking abdominal aortic aneurysm. I have handled a number of cases involving aortic aneurysms, and emergency surgical treatment can often mean the difference between life and death. On the same date, the hospital received a separate citation for failing to have systems in place to ensure on-call physicians come to the hospital, when requested by an emergency physician, to provide stabilizing treatments for patients with an emergency condition.
In June 2011, a surveyor cited Memorial Hermann Southwest Hospital for a similar issue in the emergency room. The surveyor found that the hospital did not comply with the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA) for a patient who had fractured her pelvis. EMTALA is a federal law that requires accredited hospitals with emergency rooms to provide an appropriate medical screening of all patients and to stabilize any emergency medical condition or active pregnancy before discharge, regardless of their ability to pay. It is also sometimes called the anti-patient-dumping law. Instead of providing an appropriate medical screening to this patient, the emergency physician discharged her with a prescription for pain medications and instructions to follow up with an orthopedic surgeon three days later.
In February 2012, a Memorial Hermann hospital was cited by a survey or for inadequate registered nurse supervision of nursing care. Once again, the carrot issue was in the emergency room. This time, the emergency room nursing staff failed to appropriately monitor and assess a patient’s blood pressure, based on the severity of his condition.
In May 2012, the surveyor again cited a Memorial Hermann hospital as being deficient in providing registered nurse supervision of nursing care. In this instance, the surveyor found that a patient had experienced a change of condition and the nursing staff failed to notify a physician and document assessment of vital signs and did not follow a doctor’s orders for neurological assessments. This particular patient was admitted to the hospital with complaints of altered mental status, among other things. From my experience in handling cases of this nature, altered mental status can be an early indicator of a major medical problem that requires physician intervention. If the nursing staff fails to inform any physician of a change in the patient’s status, it can result in a dangerous delay in life-saving medical treatment.
In June 2013, a surveyor cited a Memorial Hermann hospital with two separate care deficiencies. The first involve the lack of a nursing care plan involving a patient who had experienced cardiopulmonary arrest (heart attack). The patient’s medical record contained no nursing documentation of a change in the patient’s condition or what the nursing interventions were. The second citation in June 2013 involved lacks infection control policies and procedures to ensure that the staff practiced proper isolation measures. I have represented medical negligence clients in cases where hospital-acquired infections were a major issue that led to significant medical problems. The standard of care requires hospitals not only to adopt good policies and procedures, but to ensure that their staff is appropriately trained to follow them uniformly.
In March 2015, a Medicare/Medicaid surveyor cited a Memorial Hermann hospital for violation of patient rights, specifically the right to be free from abuse and harassment. The surveyor reviewed medical records reflect multiple incidents of a patient having bruises or hematomas on body parts after being transported to another floor for testing. The surveyor’s report reflects that the hospital risk manager, which is part of the hospital administration, was torn as to whether this was a case of abuse or not. From my experience, it appears, at a minimum, that the hospital’s transportation staff needed more training and how to safely and appropriately transport patients.
We are here to help
The experienced medical help practice lawyers at Painter Law Firm, in Houston, Texas, are already familiar with the hospitals in the Memorial Hermann Hospital System. We understand how their medical records are documented and stored, how to obtain all of the relevant records, and the typical policies and procedures that they use. We have filed lawsuits against Memorial Hermann hospitals, on behalf of our clients, on numerous occasions.
If you have concerns about the quality of care provided to you at a Memorial Hermann hospital, and suffered a significant injury from it, call our office at 281-580-8800, for a free consultation about your potential case.
Robert Painter is an experienced medical negligence attorney at Painter Law Firm PLLC. He focuses his practice on medical malpractice and wrongful death lawsuits. As a former hospital administrator, he has unique insights into cases involving serious injuries because of the mistakes, negligence, or neglect by hospitals, doctors, and nurse.