Medicare cites West Houston Medical Center with a violation over patient care concern

While the State of Texas conducts very little regulatory and safety oversight of hospitals, the federal government, through the Medicare system, is a different story.

When hospitals receive federal Medicare funding, one of the significant strings attached is that they are subject to regular on-site inspections and surveys by Medicare personnel to make sure that the quality of care at hospitals is up to par.

Hospitals that don’t meet these standards can be issued violations. In fact, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued a violation to West Houston Medical Center on May 18, 2018. This is the 12th violation the hospital has received since March 2012.

West Houston Medical Center, located at 12141 Richmond Avenue, Houston, TX 77082, recently became part of the HCA mega-chain of hospitals, which is based in Tennessee.

Its most recent Medicare violation was over the hospital’s violation of patient rights to care in a safe setting. The Medicare surveyor found that the hospital missed the mark when it came to a patient who had been admitted during the night after attempting suicide.

As a Houston, Texas, medical malpractice attorney, I have investigated several cases involving attempted suicide. It’s sad to see any man, woman, or young person to feel so hopeless that they decide to attempt to take their own life. In these situations, people need the help of a hospital with properly-trained staff and policies and procedures to ensure safe psychological, psychiatric, or behavioral care services.

The Medicare surveyor found that a patient at West Houston Medical Center was placed on suicide precautions. She was left alone in a room, awake, with a call light cord nearby. The call light cord was about 15 inches long, with another plastic portion attached to it that was about 6 inches long. The Medicare surveyor thought this was a dangerous ligature (hanging) risk for suicidal patient.

A registered nurse told the Medicare surveyor that the bathroom call light cords had been cut short and that the call light cords in the rooms were “breakaway cords” at 30 pounds. The nurse said that they had been tested but could not locate any documentation to show that.

The surveyor also found that the hospital had a policy in place requiring nurse cords to be secured for patients on suicide precautions. Further, the hospital’s suicide prevention plan said that when heightened observations were in place that the patient was never to be out of arm’s reach of the assigned and dedicated staff member.

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If you or a loved one has been seriously injured because of medical or hospital care, then the experienced medical malpractice attorneys at Painter Law Firm, in Houston, Texas, are here to help. Click here to send us a confidential email via our “Contact Us” form or call us at 281-580-8800.

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Robert Painter is a medical malpractice attorney at Painter Law Firm PLLC, in Houston, Texas. He is a former hospital administrator who represents patients and family members in medical negligence and wrongful death lawsuits against hospitals, physicians, surgeons, anesthesiologists, and other healthcare providers. A member of the board of directors of the Houston Bar Association, he was honored, in 2018, by H Texas as one of Houston’s top lawyers. Also, in 2018, the Better Business Bureau recognized Painter Law Firm PLLC with its Award of Distinction.

Robert Painter
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Robert Painter

Robert Painter is an award-winning medical malpractice attorney at Painter Law Firm Medical Malpractice Attorneys in Houston, Texas. He is a former hospital administrator who represents patients and family members in medical negligence and wrongful death lawsuits all over Texas. Contact him for a free consultation and strategy session by calling 281-580-8800 or emailing him right now.