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Life threatening medical complications happen during rotations

For people in New York and across the U.S. who have a loved one who is harmed or dies while in the hospital and it is believed to have been due to an error on the part of the staff, there are certain reasons that are often cited for it. A failure to diagnose, surgical errors or basic hospital negligence are frequently viewed as why this occurred. However, there are also issues and circumstances that might initially be considered innocuous but in actuality are found to be linked to fatal mistakes. One such factor is the routine handoff of hospital patients.

In research conducted at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, it was discovered that there were higher rates of mortality among patients who were in the hospital during a transition of their care going from one medical resident to the other. The author of the study joined with other medical professionals from New York University Langone Medical Center and examined the evidence to come to this conclusion. Information from 2008 to 2014 looked at more than 230,700 patients who were discharged spanning 10 Veteran's Health Administration Hospitals across the nation. They discovered that there was an increase of between 1.5 and 1.9 percent of mortality at the end of a rotation transition. That came to 12 to 18 percent of a higher risk to die.

Frequent miscommunications when patients are handed off are believed to be a common reason for these mistakes, but prior to this research the changes in clinical rotations from one medical resident to the other was not exhaustively studied. With these rotations, as many as 10 to 20 patients are switched from one resident doctor to another. The study found that the death rates were higher with these patients. In addition, it found that the mortality rates were higher for these patients after they left the hospital. There was a 10 to 21 percent higher rate of death at 30 or 90 days.

People who have lost a loved one in a hospital or soon after they have left the hospital without knowing specifically why might want to consider this research when thinking about a legal filing. It is known that life threatening medical complications can occur in hospitals due to mistakes, but many have not considered something as simplistic as the change from one doctor to another leading to death. Those who have lost a loved one in the hospital or after a hospital stay need to look into all possibilities with help from an experienced attorney.

Source:, "Higher mortality rates associated with routine handoffs of hospital patients," Jeff Lagasse, Dec. 7, 2016

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