I’ve always recommended that hospitalized patients have a friend or family member with them continually from admission to discharge. Patients benefit by having a trusted person watching what’s going on, giving individualized attention and advocacy for their well-being.
Sadly, one of the consequences of COVID that’s become common in hospitals and nursing homes is the prohibition on patient visitors. Sick patients are isolated and sometimes unable to speak up for themselves when they’re clinically deteriorating or being neglected.
Even in the best of times, physicians and health care providers are busy people and sometimes things fall through the cracks. Having a family member or friend who can be a “squeaky wheel” to advocate when these errors happen provides a much-needed safety net.
This isn’t a trivial issue.
Even before the pandemic, it was well established that over 250,000 people die every year in the United States from medical mistakes. That makes medical mistake the third most common cause of death, trailing only heart disease and cancer.
In general, Texas law has provided a mixed bag on the pandemic response. A new law created an almost impossible standard of proof for medical malpractice claims involving COVID-related care. That, of course, creates an environment where hospitals and healthcare professionals have no accountability, which means that the quality of care likely suffers in some places.
There is a bright spot, though, in the form of a proposed amendment to the Texas Constitution that will be on the ballot on November 2, 2021. If passed, the amendment will allow patients or residents of nursing homes and assisted living facilities to name one person as an essential caregiver. The facility would be required to allow the essential caregiver a right to visit the patient in-person.
Unfortunately, the proposed constitutional amendment does not apply to hospitals. Additionally, it would be up to the legislature to define how meaningful the visitation rights will be. Regardless, though, I’m in favor of the amendment and think it’s a step in the right direction.
If you’ve been seriously injured because of poor hospital or nursing home care in Texas, then contact a top-rated experienced Texas medical malpractice lawyer for a free consultation about your potential case.