Medical Records as Proof-bearers of Medical Negligence

by | Published on Nov 12, 2014 | Medical Record Review

Even the minutest negligence in a hospital setting can trigger a series of fatalities and therefore needs to be prevented at all costs. Take the case of the recent Ebola case in the U.S. Reports say that the patient Thomas Eric Duncan’s medical records that were given to the Associated Press by his family present a very grim picture regarding negligence. Many staffers at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas are feared to have been exposed to the Ebola virus on account of the lapses in the treatment of Duncan. The records show that the measures were insufficient or that there was a lag in implementing suitable preventative measures that put many staffers at risk. ER records provide evidence regarding the patient’s time of arrival, the clinicians that attended him/her, whether the patient was moved to intensive care and so on. In the course of the patient’s 11-day stay at the hospital, at least 70 workers are named in the medical documents as being involved in providing care to Duncan.

The hospital has denied the allegations anonymously made by its nurses who had expressed their concerns via a statement issued by the National Nurses United union. It is feared that if the allegations are correct, the healthcare workers at the hospital including at least half a dozen doctors and nurses may have been put at risk. An evaluation of the medical records showed no information as regards what happened after hospital staff left Duncan’s bedside.

Addressing the Challenges of OSHA Violations and Workplace Injury

Healthcare organizations have an increasing number of occupational safety and health challenges to face today, and these range from dangerous chemical and biological exposures to ergonomics and workplace violence. Bloodborne pathogens and biological hazards such as Hepatitis, HIV and tuberculosis are a major safety and health issue is a hospital or other healthcare setting. If these are not appropriately addressed, healthcare businesses are likely to face the risk of citation by OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration). In addition, there is also the threat of litigation by staffers that have been exposed to health risks. Workplace injury lawyers make it a point to thoroughly investigate every case and review the relevant medical records, evaluate the presence of OSHA violations and history of accidents, and also assess whether sufficient safety measures were implemented. Usually, the parties responsible for their clients’ injuries are held accountable under Workers’ Compensation laws or under tort law claims such as recklessness, negligence and punitive damages.

Such cases serve to damage the reputation of healthcare organizations and may also badly affect their bottom line. It is the onus of hospitals providing emergency response services to be fully prepared to carry out their tasks without putting the safety and health of their own workers at risk. This is particularly important when the hospital is taking in contaminated patients following a major disease outbreak.

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