Rehabilitation centers can be integral to the treatment and rehabilitation of a patient suffering from functional limitations or loss resulting from a stroke, injury, disability, disease or recent surgery. While rehabilitation centers may help you to improve your body’s functions, a recent government study found they sometimes can go wrong and even make things worse.

The office of the inspector general of the U.S Department of Health and Human Services published a report in 2016 stating that 29 percent of patients in a rehabilitation center sustained an injury or other type of harm because of the care received leading to prolonged stays, hospital transfers, life-sustaining interventions or death. The study found 46 percent of these cases were likely to be preventable.

The injuries following rehab care identified in the study ranged in severity. From a temporary injury to something that required a longer stay at the facility or that led to permanent disability or death.
Harm can occur in any type of an inpatient setting, but rehabilitation facilities are underestimated in terms of what type of harm can occur. Some of the most common injuries from rehabilitation facilities are here.

• Medical Errors – The study suggests that medical errors are the third-leading cause of death in the U.S. Many of these rehab centers are staffed inadequately causing substandard treatment, insufficient patient monitoring and failure to provide needed treatments to patients. These are the key reasons harm occurs at rehab facilities. These failures lead to one in three patients receiving a medication error. The harm from medication errors range from dizziness and unbalance to bleeding from gastric ulcers due to blood thinners and a loss of consciousness linked to narcotic painkillers.

• Bed Sores – Bed sores occur when there is unrelieved pressure to the skin, occurring most frequently to areas of the body where bone and skin are very close to contact. Patients most at risk are those immobilized from medical conditions such as joint replacements, hip, pelvis or leg fractures, paralysis or coma. Staff in a rehabilitation center needs to remain aware that rehab patients, of all ages and health, are at risk and need to be diligent with their preventive programs. If not treated they can cause serious health problems like infections and other life-threatening injuries.

• Infections – Infections can occur not only by bed sores, but also after a surgery. Various types of organisms can develop at the site of the surgical wound or any type of line or catheter inserted into the patient. Unfortunately, rehabilitation centers are frequently not set up to treat serious infections.

• Falling – Falls are a common patient injury in a rehabilitation center, and while some are unavoidable, others are due to the staff’s negligence. During a physical rehabilitation session, staff may become distracted allowing a patient to fall. Clean floors usually mean slippery floors and are a common cause for a fall. Countless medical conditions and medications can lead to dizziness and a loss of balance causing a patient to fall. For the injured, a fall can have serious consequences.

• Dropped by Staff – Facility staff are often required to transfer a patient. Staff should be experts at transferring patients safely and effectively while minimizing pain and injury. However, if done negligently, it can lead to accident or fall resulting in injury.

These cases are very much like nursing home abuse claims, but they are different and certainly require experience.  Beware general personal injury attorneys who try to handle these cases without a true track record of success.  We work with the best firms in Chicago and throughout the state on this very niche area of law.  If you would like a referral please call us at 312-346-5320.