Located approximately 90 miles west of Bensalem in the Pennsylvania heartland is Lebanon, home to Penn State Health's Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. As reported in the Lebanon Daily News, last year the medical facility received five citations from state health officials related to the medical treatment (or lack thereof) that three separate patients received at the medical center. Two of those patients died as a result.
Last summer, during the three-week period from July 3-21, the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) conducted a surprise monitoring survey of the facility. The five citations and the ensuing corrective actions arose from this survey.
Investigators determined that the medical center was not in compliance with multiple state regulations and requirements. In the first case, they learned that hospital physicians did not "implement emergency procedures in a timely manner." One pediatric patient was running a high fever and had a rapid heart rate. He was transferred to the intensive care unit (ICU), but suffered septic shock and was brain dead within days.
In their survey, state investigators established that the medical center's rapid response team was not asked to provide care for the ailing child until 3:30 p.m., or roughly three-and-a-half hours after they should have gotten the call.
The neglect continues
A second case that occurred back in June involved the failure of doctors at the medical center to timely initiate their "brain attack protocol" for a patient suffering from a stroke. Hospital personnel noted the patient was struggling to follow commands, had delayed reactions to their commands and was no longer making sense shortly before 10 p.m. on June 11.
A nurse's notes from 12:15 a.m. the following day stated medical staff discussed the "need to call emergency department brain attack at this time. Awaiting further orders."
Another patient came to the emergency room (ER) on July 22 after falling. Staff prescribed medicine for blood clots at 5:47 a.m. At 6:49 a.m., the pharmacy confirmed the orders. Yet, the patient did not receive a dose until 8:36 a.m. By that time, bleeding from a subdural hemorrhage led to the patient's demise.
Investigators learned that the delay was due, in part, to nurses awaiting shift change who failed to administer the life-saving medicine to the patient. By then, the damage was done.
The above quite disparate cases show that medical professionals can drop the ball on any type of case, from pediatric to geriatric. When this occurs and patients suffer ill effects, worsened conditions or even death, the negligent care providers and the facility itself can be held liable for failing to meet the acceptable standards of care for their patients.
Injured patients and the survivors of the deceased may elect to pursue financial compensation by filing claims for damages, or ultimately, lawsuits in Pennsylvania's civil courts.