New Study on Increase of Rehabilitation Facility Negligence and Malpractice

By Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo & Plotkin LLP

According to the Department of Health and Human services (DHS) new report, “adverse events in Rehabilitation Hospitals: National incidence among Medicare beneficiaries” 29 percent of patients in rehab facilities suffered a medication error, bedsore, infection or some other type of harm as a result of negligent care. Further, a review of the medical records for 417 Medicare beneficiaries that were discharged from rehab facilities in March 2012, revealed that nearly half of the 158 incidents found were clearly or likely preventable. Indeed, with a quarter of these harmed patients requiring further acute care hospital admittance, costs to Medicare increase about $7.7 million/ month or $92 million yearly.

The office of the inspector General (OIG), which published the report, cited substandard treatment, inadequate monitoring, and failure to provide needed care as the main culprits for harm to patients. Specifically, almost half of the cases were related to medication errors. In response, Dr. Eric Thomas, director of the UT Houston-Memorial Hermann Center for Healthcare Quality and Safety asserted that there is clearly room for improvement, and that the industry knows, “a lot about preventing medication errors.”

The OIG previously released a report in 2014, which focused its study of adverse events to Medicare beneficiaries treated in skilled nursing facilities, reported a harm to patient rate of 22 percent. Now, the OIG 2016 report is reporting an increase of incidents to patients. If the industry has the knowledge to help cut these incidents down, why are studies reporting an increased number of incidents?

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