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Unsafe discharges on an “uphill trend” according to a Las Vegas attorney

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The Bureau of Health Care Quality and Compliance reports that there are currently seven admission, discharge and transfer rights allegations against Centennial Hills Hospital.

Six have yet to be investigated but five are related to discharging patients, according to the state.

The hospital was listed as a defendant in a lawsuit two weeks ago regarding the unsafe discharge of an 87-year-old woman in January 2021. The lawsuit claims she was discharged around 1 a.m. and placed in a Lyft to go home without hospital staff notifying her caretaker or family. A situation that attorney Jennifer Morales, a partner with Claggett and Sykes Law Firm said happens more frequently now.

“It's an uphill trend right now,” Morales said. She also attributes certain reasons to why it’s likely happening. “It could be capacity issues. Other times it's what type of insurance do they have and what coverages do they have without insurance.”

When a client does come in with an unsafe discharge or patient dumping case allegation, she said there’s another issue.

"What I'm seeing in cases are those investigations are not happening internally,” she said. “We'll ask for incident reports, and they don't have them. So, if there was no incident report, there's no investigation and if there's no investigation, there's no corrective action plan to figure out how to fix it.”

She said along with internal investigations lacking, so is self-reporting.

“The system that's in place, a hospital would have to self-report that they discharged that patient too early unless, it's a situation where another hospital received the patient and then that receiving hospital would have to report to the state. So, in a situation like that, you're still relying on another facility telling on another one, right? So, one corporation telling on another corporation. So, I think that's one problem, just the way the reporting system works.”

All hospitals in Nevada are required to follow regulations regarding proper patient discharge. It is the hospital's responsibility to assess individual patients’ needs and involve different type of personnel to meet those needs according to the state.

However, Morales said not all hospitals follow the law.

“I've seen cases where patients have gone into the emergency room with spinal emergencies that need immediate surgery and they don't even do MRI scans or CT scans or whatever the necessary radiology tests are, and then they discharge,” she said “(They’ll say) go see your orthopedic doctor. Go see your pain management doctor without seeing what the film is showing is going on. They just discharge the patient out and then the patient winds up being paralyzed.”

As for why hospitals may push patients out, Morales said it comes down to money.

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“I think that profits are put over patient safety. We see that all the time.”

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