Problems in Hospital ICUs that can Harm Patients

monitor.jpgWhen seriously ill patients are admitted into a hospital, they typically are sent to the Intensive Care Unit. ICU patients require expert care, both in terms of medical personnel and medical devices. However, it’s come to light that many hospital ICUs have serious issues that may harm patients.

A recent PBS News report looked into the state of today’s ICUs and found major concerns.

One concern is with the medical devices in an ICU. ICUs are stocked with a plethora of medical equipment to monitor patients. The devices largely operate independent of one another, so a steady but disparate information stream can overwhelm ICU healthcare providers.

Faced with this information overload, care givers may delay necessary treatment. The report calls for ICU medical devices to be linked so they can share data and help streamline care.

While this recent news report spotlighted problems in hospital ICUs, this is not the first time they have been investigated.

Dangerous Misdiagnoses in the ICU

A survey in 2014 found that over 40,000 patients may die each year when misdiagnosed in the ICU. The researchers found that the most common ICU missed diagnoses were:

· Heart attack

· Pulmonary embolism

· Pneumonia

· Aspergillosis – a life-threatening fungal condition

The report stated that ICU patients are 50 percent more likely to suffer from a medical misdiagnosis than the rest of the hospital patient population. Annually, 40,500 ICU patient deaths may be linked to a misdiagnosis, according to the study.

Burnout in ICU Medical Teams

ICU patient care can place enormous physical and psychological demands on medical teams. A report published earlier this year by the Critical Care Societies Collaborative found that burnout in ICU medical care givers is prevalent and an identifiable threat to patients. Burnout in ICU nurses, the report states, correlates with more medical errors, higher rates of avoidable infections, and higher rates of patient deaths.

ICU patients require an extraordinary amount of medical care. ICU health care providers are expected to meet this high standard of care, and usually do. But avoidable mistakes made in the ICU frequently pose grave consequences for patients and their families.

If you lost a loved one who was being treated in a hospital ICU and you suspect substandard care may be the cause, consult with an experienced medical malpractice attorney to review your concerns.

The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertising.