As a Houston, Texas medical malpractice attorney, I investigate and handle cases all over the Houston metropolitan area.
It will probably not surprise you that the Memorial Hermann Healthcare System is the largest non-profit health system in Houston, as well as Southeast Texas. The system has 12 hospitals and around 5,500 physicians on the combined medical staff.
One of the hospitals in the system is Memorial Hermann Greater Heights Hospital, which is located at 1635 N Loop W, Houston, TX 77008. It has 260 licensed beds and over 600 physicians on its medical staff.
The specialties that are offered include alcohol and drug rehabilitation, a cancer center, children’s care, an emergency room, cardiac/heart/vascular care, a diagnostic radiology imaging center (CT, MRI, EMG, and EEG scans), family birthing center, neurosciences, orthopedics and sports medicine, physical and occupational therapy, rehabilitation, care for sleep disorders, women’s services, and wound care.
Quality of care concerns
I have handled many cases involving health care provided at Memorial Hermann Greater Heights Hospital, as well as other facilities in the Memorial Hermann system. These hospitals, along with all other accredited acute care hospitals, are subject to the regulatory oversight of the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
As part of its efforts to improve cost efficiencies and patient safety, The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services send surveyors to perform records reviews and conduct interviews of staff members. When the standard of care or hospital policies and procedures are violated, the Medicare/Medicaid surveyor may issue a violation to the hospital.
As a whole, the Memorial Hermann Hospital System has received 11 violations for Medicare/Medicaid since 2011. The two most recent violations were in 2017.
On October 3, 2017, Medicare/Medicaid issued a violation to Memorial Hermann Hospital System because one of its hospitals did not meet patient rights standards when it came to grievance review time frames. A grievance refers to a complaint made by a patient or family member about the care provided at a hospital. As a former hospital administrator, I view grievances to be extremely valuable tools for hospital leaders who are willing to listen. Rather than having information filtered through staff members and physicians who wish to protect their careers, the complaints are reduced to writing and should be closely reviewed and handled by hospital administrators.
The surveyor looked at three sampled patients and found that in two of the three cases the hospital did not follow its own policy. Both hospital policy and the standard of care require prompt written acknowledgment of all grievances and a closure letter of the hospital’s resolution of the grievance. The surveyor found that the hospital’s internal policies required written acknowledgment within seven working days of a grievance and final written notice of resolution within 30 calendar days.
On June 27, 2017, the Medicare/Medicaid surveyor issued a violation to Memorial Hermann Hospital System because one of its hospitals did not provide for a proper nursing care plan. The Texas Board of Nursing requires nurses to create and use a nursing care plan to guide the ongoing, goal-directed care provided to patients. In my experience from handling many medical malpractice cases, when a nursing care plan is missing, patient care is compromised and often fall through the cracks.
The situation leading to this particular violation dealt with the hospital’s nursing staff failing to provide daily wound care to a patient with a sacral pressure wound. The care should have included repositioning the patient every two hours for pressure relief and compliance with physician orders. A doctor had ordered several nursing interventions, including daily dressing changes for the pressure ulcer, which were not done.
Common hospital mistakes
A frequent theme that I see in medical malpractice cases is a lack of communication between nurses and physicians. Quite often, doctors refer to nurses as their eyes and ears.
Under the standard of care, the nursing staff must monitor patients constantly, provide treatments and interventions, and assess the patient response to treatments. Any significant change in patient status must be communicated to the doctor, for further orders and medical interventions. When nurses keep the doctors in the dark, there is often a dangerous delay in proper care being provided.
There is another way that the communication breaks down. Sometimes patients and family members explain to me how they begged the nurse to get the doctor, and that despite repeated pages and calls to the doctor the nurse was unsuccessful. While this is certainly negligent on the part of the physician involved, the nursing staff’s obligation does not end there. When a physician does not answer a call or page after a reasonable time, the standard of care requires the nursing staff to use the chain of command to find another provider who can assess the patient or situation and give new orders.
We are here to help
If you have been seriously injured by health care provided at Memorial Houston Greater Heights Hospital, or any other hospital in Texas, call Painter Law Firm, in Houston, at 281580800, for a free consultation about your potential case.
Robert Painter is a medical malpractice and wrongful death attorney at Painter Law Firm PLLC, in Houston, Texas. He is a former hospital administrator who files lawsuits on behalf of patients and family members against hospitals, doctors, surgeons, anesthesiologists, OB/GYNs and other healthcare providers. In 2017, H Texas magazine recognized him as one of Houston’s top lawyers.