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Memorial Hermann Greater Heights Hospital hit with Medicare quality of care violation

If a patient is seriously injured or dies because a hospital isn't prepared for an emergency, it's medical malpractice

Generally, I think it’s safer to have emergency room care, radiology imaging, or surgery at a hospital rather than an outpatient or ambulatory facility or surgery center. The reason for this is if something goes wrong, outpatient facilities don’t have the emergency equipment, supplies, and personnel on hand that hospitals do.

In fact, in case after case that I’ve handled involving an outpatient facility or surgery center, the first thing they do when there’s a problem is call 911 to get the patient to a hospital immediately. To me, that begs the question: isn’t it a safer, better idea just to go to the hospital in the first place, in case something bad happens?

Although I still think that the odds of a safe outcome in an emergency situation are better in a hospital setting, that’s not to say that hospitals won’t also miss the mark. As a former hospital administrator, it concerns me when major hospitals drop the ball on preparation for emergencies. After all, they have the resources and personnel necessary to at least get the preparation right, so doctors and nurses should immediately have what they need to handle an emergency.

This quality of care concern is exactly the situation that a Medicare surveyor identified in the Memorial Hermann Greater Heights Hospital, during an inspection on May 23, 2019. What the surveyor found resulted in a formal violation being issued for the hospital regarding a violation of patient rights to care in a safe setting.

The hospital has a good policy and procedure in place, called “Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR)/Emergency Cart,” which requires having qualified personnel and necessary equipment to treat life-threatening emergencies anywhere in the hospital.

Memorial Hermann Greater Heights Hospital requires its employees to make sure that the emergency crash cart is fully stocked with emergency equipment and supplies, and to make and log a daily check that nothing is missing and that everything is in working order. One of the important things that must be done in the daily check is to test the defibrillator and document the number of Joules used test it.

When the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services looked at the audit logs for the daily checks of the emergency crash carts in the radiology area, they found that some information was missing or questionable.

For the dates May 1–23, 2019, the same employee signed off on the emergency crash cart audit record. Further investigation, though, revealed that that employee hadn’t worked 23 days straight, and, in fact, was a manager who only worked Monday through Friday.

The hospital didn’t come up with any explanation for why the employee signed off for a log when he was absent. Even more concerning to me, when the employee was asked to test the defibrillator in front of the surveyor, the employee failed to unplug the equipment before monitoring. That makes the test useless!

That’s not all that the surveyor observed during the visit to Memorial Hermann Greater Heights Hospital in May 2019. An inspection of two other emergency crash carts showed that emergency suction machines were missing. An employee admitted to the surveyor that Memorial Hermann Greater Heights Hospital didn’t have enough emergency suction machines to supply all of the emergency crash carts.

If you’ve been seriously injured because of questionable care at Memorial Hermann Greater Heights Hospital, then contact a top-rated experienced Houston, Texas medical malpractice lawyer about your potential case.

Robert Painter is an award-winning 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 all over Texas. Contact him by calling 281-580-8800 or emailing him right now.


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