As Houston, Texas medical malpractice attorney, I handle lawsuits all over the State of Texas, including in Weslaco, Hidalgo County, Texas. Many of our clients have explained to us that local lawyers were unwilling to handle cases against hometown hospitals. That is not an issue for Painter Law Firm.
Hospitals in Hidalgo County are located in both Weslaco, the county seat, and McAllen. One of the largest hospitals in the county is Knapp Medical Center, which provides care to patients in the Rio Grande Valley.
Knapp Medical Center has been in the news frequently for 10 years over its efforts to find a buyer. In 2013, tensions erupted over its sale to California-based Prime Healthcare Foundation. The City of Weslaco was so against the sale that it filed a lawsuit to try to stop it.
Quality of care concerns
In my law practice, I have handled several cases involving health care provided at Knapp Medical Center and other Hidalgo County hospitals.
One lawsuit that comes to mind involved the death of a popular local school teacher in his 30s who had been treated at Knapp Medical Center for pancreatitis. Shortly before he was to be discharged from the hospital, he died from anesthesia-related complications.
During our investigation of the case, we learned that in his operating room care—and routinely for most patients—Knapp Medical Center allowed certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs), rather than physician anesthesiologists, to handle direct patient care in the operating room. When our client stopped breathing, the anesthesiologist was not in the operating room. Our medical experts found that there was mismanagement and a delay in reviving this young father, which caused permanent brain damage.
In addition to my personal experience from litigation involving this hospital, so public information reveals other quality of care concerns that have been identified.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services sent surveyors to Knapp Medical Center to conduct on-site records reviews, observations, and interviews. The Centers conduct this type of oversight activities over all accredited hospitals. When surveyors identify quality of care concerns, they issue violations to the offending hospital. The idea behind this system is that hospital leaders will take notice of these deficiencies and correct them, to improve patient care and safety.
Since November 2014, Knapp Medical Center has been cited with two violations.
On October 18, 2017, the Medicare/Medicaid surveyor issued a violation to Knapp Medical Center because a patient’s medical record did not contain a consultation report about a cardiologist’s physical evaluation assessment of a patient. The surveyor also noted that the patient alleged that the doctor whose report was missing inappropriately touched her.
In my view as a medical malpractice lawyer, this is not a trivial issue. Hospitals must have policies in place that require healthcare providers to complete their medical records documentation in a timely fashion. This information is an important part of patient medical history and necessary for continuity of ongoing proper medical care.
The second violation was on November 7, 2014, for the hospital’s failure to provide notice of a grievance decision. A grievance is a formal complaint from a patient or family member about something that happened or didn’t happen during a hospitalization.
As a former hospital administrator, I recognize the importance for hospitals to handle grievances properly. Good hospital leaders embrace the opportunity to have unfiltered information about how hospital employees and physicians are performing. This information can be used to help administrators and healthcare providers learn how to improve the quality of care and patient safety. When hospital leadership does not take the grievance process seriously, doctors, nurses, and other staff members take notice.
We are here to help
If you or someone you love has been seriously injured by poor hospital, nursing, or medical care at Knapp Medical Center or any other Texas hospital, our experienced medical negligence attorneys can help. Click here to send us a confidential email via our “Contact Us” form or call us at 281-580-8800.
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Robert Painter is a medical malpractice attorney at Painter Law Firm PLLC, in Houston, Texas. He is a former hospital administrator who represents patients and family members in medical negligence and wrongful death lawsuits against hospitals, physicians, surgeons, anesthesiologists, and other healthcare providers. In 2017, H Texas magazine named him one of Houston’s top lawyers. In May 2018, the Better Business Bureau recognized Painter Law Firm PLLC with its Award of Distinction.