Home health nurses can be a tremendous help to patients who are stable enough to go home from the hospital, but still have care needs.
Some home health patients need long-term care. For example, we represent the family of a young patient who tragically developed a permanent brain injury because of medical malpractice. This person is at home on a ventilator and needs help and care for every aspect of life.
Other patients only require short-term care. This happens frequently when patients need wound care after surgery.
Some home health agencies do a great job for their patients, but others not so much.
On the bad side of things, poorly-managed and operated home health agencies put little thought into policies and procedures, competency assessments, and training to make sure that they’re providing safe, quality care to their patients.
In a recent Houston, Texas home health malpractice case, we uncovered in discovery that an agency bought all of its policies and procedures and competency assessment tools from an online company that advertised to “start your own home health agency” with their “turnkey” policies, procedures, and other documents. That’s like buying a “will in a box” at Office Depot!
As a former hospital administrator, I found this shocking. In reviewing the way this agency operated, though, it made a lot of sense.
Based on our experience, we recommend taking some steps to make sure that a home health nurse assigned to your or your loved one’s care has the necessary competence and experience. Here are some questions to ask:
• Where did the nurse attend nursing school?
• How long has the nurse been licensed?
• How long has the nurse lived in the area?
• How long has the nurse been with the home health agency?
• What training does the nurse have on the specific type of care that’s needed (for example, wound care)?
• If the nurse is pretty new to the agency, how long has the relevant care been a part of the nurse’s daily work? In other words, was it a major part of the nurse’s clinical responsibilities in prior job positions?
Poor home health nursing care can lead to devastating injuries and even the wrongful death of patients. Common types of home health nursing negligence include things such as:
• Medication errors
• Poor or absent communication between home health nurses and doctors when there are changes in the patient’s clinical status
• Dropping the patient during transfers or transportation
• Trying to offload home health nursing responsibilities on unlicensed, untrained family members
If you or someone you care for has been seriously injured because of poor home health nursing care, then contact a top-rated experienced Houston, Texas medical malpractice lawyer for help in evaluating your potential case.