Being in hospital is stressful enough, even when you get the very best care. But what happens when you receive poor medical care? What can you do?
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While You’re In The Hospital
If you can, take your initial complaint to your doctor or the nurses who are caring for you. Be as specific if you can about what the problem is, and ask how your complaint can be resolved. You can also ask to speak to a hospital social worker who should be able to help you resolve the problem ad identify the right resources to help you. Social workers also organize services and paperwork when a patient leaves the hospital.
If you are covered by Medicare, you can file a complaint about the care you received with the Quality Improvement Organization (QIO) in your state. These groups act on behalf of Medicare to handle any complaints about the care that has been give to patients who are covered by Medicare.
The most common complaint that QIOs deal with are patients who have been giving the wrong medication, given the wrong surgery, or who have recieved inadaquate treatment. You can find your local QIO by calling 1-800-MEDICARE.
If you get an infection while you are still in the hospital or are having difficulty in getting the correct medication, you can file a complaint with the Joint Commision. This group certifies a lot of US hospitals for their safety and security practices and will look into complaints about the rights of patients. It doesn’t oversee medical care or how the hospital bills you.
If something has gone really wrong, you may have a case for medical malpractice. If you aren’t sure, contact medical malpractice attorneys to see if you do have a case.
To find out what other patients have had to say about their recent stays in the hospital you are in, you can visit the Hospital Compare website. This site will have answers from patients about how well their doctors and nurses communicated with them, how well their pain was managed, and how they rated the hospital.
If You Are Discharged Before You’re Ready
This can be a big concern for a lot of patients, as a lot of insurers aren’t keen on long hospital stays. Talk to the hospital discharge planner, who will often be a social worker, if you’re concerned that you’re not ready to go home. The discharge planner will take your concerns to the doctor who will make the decision.
If you are covered by Medicare, you can file an appeal about a discharge while you are still in the hospital. Get a form from the hospital, called ‘An Important Message From Medicare’, which will explain how to appeal a hospital discharge decision. Appeals are free to do and should be resolved within three days. You cannot be discharged until the appeal has been completed.
Worrying about your medical care when you’re trying to get well is not ideal, but there is help and support out there.