In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, hospitals around the nation are furloughing staff of elective procedures in an effort to remain financially stable. The focus of hospital resources has shifted from these ordinary procedures to address Covid-related issues. However, everyday patients and their underlining medical conditions do not just go away over-night. This situation puts non-Covid related patients at a potential risk today due to the lack of staff, resources, and attention they receive.
Patients in hospitals already suffer physical, emotional, and financial anguish when dealing with a serious medical condition. Unfortunately, and, sometimes unknown to some, many patients endure hospital-acquired conditions (HACs) that leave them in a worse condition compared to when they entered a healthcare facility. Thus, it is important to know the facts and circumstances that surround these preventable injuries, especially when dealing with the circumstances of today and the foreseeable future.
What are HACs?
Hospital acquired conditions are defined by the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) as avoidable complications of care that could reasonably have been prevented through the application of evidence-based guidelines. Basically, HACS are preventable injuries that occur at the hands of a doctor, nurse, or other hospital employee that were not present at the time of admission into a hospital. HACs are identified by 14 distinct conditions.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid legally recognize specific hospital acquired conditions. The criteria for identification include: (1) high cost and/or high volume; (2) higher payment when present as a secondary diagnosis; and (3) reasonably preventable through applicable guidelines. The 14 current recognized categories are:
- Foreign Object Retained After Surgery
- Air Embolism
- Blood Incompatibility
- Stage III and IV Pressure Ulcers
- Falls and Trauma
- Manifestations of Poor Glycemic Control
- Catheter-Associated Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
- Vascular Catheter-Associated Infection
- Surgical Site Infection, Mediastinitis, Following Coronary Artery Bypass Graft (CABG)
- Surgical Site Infection Following Bariatric Surgery for Obesity
- Surgical Site Infection Following Certain Orthopedic Procedures
- Surgical Site Infection Following Cardiac Implantable Electronic Device (CIED)
- Deep Vein Thrombosis/ Pulmonary Embolism
- Iatrogenic Pneumothorax with Venous Catheterization
Physical and Financial Hardship
On top of a patient’s serious medical condition, HACs cause additional physical and financial hardships that negatively impact everyday life. Patients who develop hospital acquired conditions are more likely required to stay in a hospital for a longer duration of time. Longer hospital stays put patients at risk for aggravating existing conditions and developing new complications.
Additionally, these longer stays require more treatment, increasing the cost of medical bills and expenses. Moreover, HACs require longer recovery times that prevent a patient from returning to work resulting in lost wages. Some cases of hospital acquired conditions can also lead to death. According to IBM Watson Health, in 2016, an estimated 3,200 deaths were attributable to HACs.
Finding a Solution
Hospital acquired conditions have severe consequences to a person’s physical and financial life. It is important to note that these consequences are completely preventable and should be avoided by hospitals.
If you believe to be suffering from any of the 14 known hospital acquired conditions as stated above, you may have a claim to recover legal damages against your healthcare provider. To schedule a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer, please call our office at 330-722-8989.
- Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services, https://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Medicare-Fee-for-Service-Payment/HospitalAcqCond/Hospital-Acquired_Conditions.
- IBM Watson Heath, https://www.ibm.com/blogs/watson-health/research-brief-hospital-acquired-conditions-lead-to-avoidable-cost-and-excess-deaths/