Staying in a hospital, visiting a hospital emergency room or even going to an outpatient clinic might feel like traveling through a black hole for some residents of New York City.
The reason is that in the medical world, critical information too often gets lost after a patient makes a visit, much like everything gets lost in a black hole.
New York providers simply do not always communicate with each other as much as they should in order to ensure that a patient gets proper treatment.
One study illustrates some of the problems. At the time of the study, problems included recently discharged patients going to follow-up visits when the treating physician had not yet received a discharge report from the hospital.
In other cases, a patient may have been discharged from a facility while there were still outstanding lab results.
The results of the black hole are not good for patients. The study reported that close to 1 of 5 patients experienced medical problems shortly after being discharged from the hospital.
Medical providers have a duty to be aware of all available information
It is the responsibility of the medical profession to understand all of the important details about a patient’s condition before treating them.
While they cannot know everything about a patient, at a minimum, doctors and others should do what they can to avoid their patients suffering the effects of the information black hole.
They should get a medical history, including any recent hospitalizations or other outpatient visits and follow through on the information they receive.
If they do not do so, or sloppily perform this important task, they could misdiagnose their patient or make a significant medication error. Such mistakes can lead to a patient’s experiencing a worsened condition or other injuries.
In these situations, an injured patient may be entitled to compensation for a negligent provider’s medical malpractice.