Although we are based in Houston, Texas, Painter Law Firm handles medical malpractice cases all over the State of Texas, including those involving care at Providence Health Center, In Waco.
Providence Health Center is located at 6901 Medical Parkway, Waco, Texas 76712. It’s part of the Ascension health care system, which is headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri.
Although Texas law prohibits hospitals from practicing medicine—that’s something reserved for licensed physicians—Providence and Ascension have embraced the growing Lone Star State trend to set up physician organizations that they control.
The hospital now has such a physician organization, which has purchased many private physician and group practices. Thus, the odds are, if you’ve been treated at Providence Health Center in the past several years, many or all of your doctors were employees of the hospital-controlled physician organization. In my view, as an experienced medical malpractice lawyer, this makes the hospital responsible not only for its nurses and technical staff, but at least indirectly for the doctors as well.
I’ve handled a number of cases involving care provided at this hospital, including life-changing mistakes during or following neurosurgery in general surgical procedures.
With our focus on Texas medical malpractice cases, one of the things that we regularly do is monitor Medicare and Medicaid violations involving Texas hospitals. On March 13, 2019, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services issued a violation to Providence Health Center over a quality of care concern.
The violation itself is over the content of nursing notes in the patient’s medical record. The Medicare surveyor found that physicians had ordered the nursing staff to perform periodic neurological checks to monitor the status of patients, but they hadn’t been documented—and presumably weren’t done.
Providence Health Center’s own internal policy requires the nursing staff to start by assessing neurological vital signs to establish a baseline assessment for a patient. Once the baseline is established, the hospital policy requires nurses to re-assess the patient throughout the hospitalization to look for clinical changes.
The hospital’s policy appropriately provides that neurological checks include, at a minimum: (1) the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS), which includes assessing the patient’s level of consciousness, ability to move, and speech; (2) looking in the patient’s eyes for the size of the pupils and how they react to light; and (3) performing a stroke assessment and assigning a stroke scale score. While it’s up to the doctor to decide on how often checks need to be performed, it’s up to the nurses to notify the physician any time they discover an abnormality on a neuro assessment or reassessment.
The surveyor did a spot check of five sets of medical records for neurological checks. Four of the five records were deficient with gaps in reassessments.
This is a patient safety concern because if the nursing staff is not reassessing patients for changes in neurological status, they have no way of knowing if anything is going wrong with the patient. If so, the doctors are kept in the dark, and appropriate orders and medical interventions are delayed. In some situations, this can be life-threatening to patients.
If you’ve been seriously injured because of poor care at Providence Health Center, in Waco, then contact a top-rated lawyer with direct experience in handling complex medical malpractice cases under Texas law.