Memorial Hermann Northeast Hospital recently received a one-star ranking—the lowest one possible—from the federal government’s Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). CMS makes its star rankings of hospitals nationwide based on data obtained from its Hospital Compare website.
This 255-bed hospital is located in Harris County, Texas, near Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH), at 18951 North Memorial Drive, Humble, TX 77338. Memorial Hermann Northeast attempts to offer typical acute care hospital care plus various specialized services, including a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), cancer center, and primary stroke center.
As a Houston, Texas medical malpractice attorney, I’ve handled many cases involving care provided at Memorial Hermann Northeast Hospital, as well as the other hospitals in the mammoth Memorial Hermann Hospital System.
A recent case immediately comes to mind that continues to surprise me, considering that this hospital went through the significant effort to attain status as a primary stroke center. A 40-year-old man went to a freestanding emergency room in the Kingwood area because of sudden symptoms including the worst headache of his life, visual and balance problems, and nausea and vomiting. A head CT scan was read as negative and he was discharged with some medications.
By the next day, his symptoms were no better, so he went to the Memorial Hermann Northeast emergency room (ER) to get checked out again. The ER doctor and nurse practitioner decided not to order a head CT scan and discharged him home with different medications to try and control his severe headache pain.
The next day—now the third day in a row—he returned to the ER with worsening symptoms. The Memorial Hermann Northeast ER doctor wanted to discharge him again, but according to his wife’s deposition testimony, she had enough and demanded a consultation with a neurologist. The ER doctor ordered a head CT scan and asked a neurologist to come by.
Memorial Hermann Northeast’s staff sent the CT images to an off-site neuroradiologist who was located somewhere else in Houston to review the scan. According to our expert, the neuroradiologist missed the interpretation and didn’t realize that this patient was on the verge of having a massive stroke because of a dissected cerebral artery. The ER doctor didn’t ask any questions.
Meanwhile, the neurologist saw the patient and noted in the medical records a new neurological deficit, ptosis, a droopy eyelid on one side. Our neurology expert testified that this important finding required further workup, including an emergency MRI or MR angiogram scan, either of which would have shown the cerebral artery dissection. That would’ve led to treatment that would have prevented his stroke.
Instead, the neurologist cleared the patient for discharge, and the ER doctor asked no questions and sent him home. According to the patient’s wife, one of the hospital’s nurses had to help her husband to the car and he threw up along the way. She recalls the nurse shaking his head and commenting how he felt that the discharge was wrong.
Sadly, this young man went home and had a massive stroke a few hours later. Our experts carefully looked at the medical records and testified that it all could have been avoided with proper care.
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Because we’ve handled many medical malpractice lawsuits against Memorial Hermann hospitals, we know where to look and how to get the information and records we need to find out what happened n a patient’s care. And we’re not intimidated to take on the largest nonprofit hospital system in Texas.
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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. A member of the board of directors of the Houston Bar Association, he was honored, in 2018, by H Texas as one of Houston’s top lawyers. Also, in 2018, the Better Business Bureau recognized Painter Law Firm PLLC with its Award of Distinction.