Patients in hospitals are quite vulnerable. They're often tethered to machines that simulate life for them. They may be alone and trying to make sense of the events that led to their hospitalization.
This month, the Massachusetts attorney general announced fines and settlements with seven different nursing home facilities in the state. This is the final resolution to the allegations of "systemic failures" that injured multiple residents and cost at least five others their lives.
Hospital patients are vulnerable to negligence because their debilitated states make them less able to discern whether there is a problem with their treatment. It's estimated that annually up to 440,000 hospital patients succumb to hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) and medical errors in the United States. These two categories combined comprise the number three cause of death in America.
In 2016, a woman suffering a severe asthma attack collapsed only feet away from a locked door leading to a Massachusetts emergency room. She later died of what would normally be an easily treatable condition.
Earlier this year, a Boston woman's long life ended in a manner that completely contradicted her clearly stated intentions. The octogenarian was a victim of a medical kidnapping.
Whether it is for religious beliefs or another reason, some people do not want certain types of emergency medical treatment. Examples of unwanted treatments might include blood transfusions, surgery, experimental techniques and drug treatments, to name a few. Complicating the issues even more is that occasionally, an unauthorized emergency treatment may worsen the patient's condition.
Mistakes on the part of any hospital employee can pose significant injury risks to you or a hospitalized family member. Most of us expect these medical professionals to provide competent, if not extraordinary, medical care to each person in need. Most of the time, that is exactly what happens, but other times, errors or outright negligence puts you or your family in harm's way.
Imagine entering a hospital in Boston for a minor outpatient surgical procedure. After the surgery, you go home and resume your life only to wake up several days later with symptoms such as severe pain, fever and/or swelling. Alarmed, you contact your doctor to arrange an examination where you learn that you have acquired a serious hospital-borne infection.
There are many care facilities in Boston, Massachusetts, including high-quality ones providing world-class care to their fortunate patients. At other care facilities, however, the patients are not so fortunate, and things go so awry that they wind up pursuing legal cases that allege hospital negligence. Sometimes, when care facilities become a matter of concern, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) gets involved.
Going to the hospital these days can be a risky proposition -- just because you run the risk of picking up an infection while you're there.