Every year, millions of Americans receive healthcare in the comfort of their own homes. Home health nurses are responsible for taking patient vitals, cleaning and dressing wounds, administering medication, educating patients and their families on how to care for themselves, and acting as an intermediary between patients and their doctors. But taking medical care outside a medical facility comes with its own challenges and potential for error.
While many serious wounds are initially treated in the hospital, it’s common for people with wounds that will require extended treatment to be sent home before their wounds have fully healed. Other people, particularly those with impaired sensation, prolonged periods of immobility, and advanced age, may suffer from chronic, non-healing wounds that require prolonged specialized wound care. Home health nurses often make house calls to provide this follow-up care and to instruct patients and their families on how to best care for their wounds as they heal.
Home health nurses have five main goals when it comes to wound care:
While there are many benefits to receiving wound care in the comfort and security of your home, there are also some downsides. When wounds are treated in a hospital, multiple people are involved in dressing changes and documentation, and a physician will typically personally assess the wound at least once per day. Home health nurses may only come to your home once per day if you need frequent dressing changes, or they may come as little as once per week if you’re able to care for the wound yourself. Because of this more hands-off approach, there’s little room for error during a home health visit. In addition, due to the lack of direct oversight when a nurse makes a home visit, it can be difficult for home health agencies to enforce compliance with wound care protocols and best practices.
When serious wounds aren’t treated properly, there can be disastrous consequences. Infection, amputation, and death are all possible, so home health nurses must take your care seriously and be diligent about documenting, educating, and communicating with patients, families, and doctors.
A home health nurse should assess the size, shape, color, dressings applied, and healing progress of your wound at every visit. Notes should also be made about how comfortable the patient or their family members are with cleaning and dressing the wound and any potential barriers to treatment. When documentation is lacking or of poor quality, it can be challenging to recognize whether a wound is improving. And if the doctor they’re communicating with doesn’t have the information they need, they cannot make informed decisions about your care going forward. A malpractice case may be made when this negligence results in additional pain or suffering for the patient.
When wounds aren’t cared for properly, the results can be catastrophic. If you or your loved one has suffered from a serious infection, amputation, or death due to a home health care provider’s negligence, then contact the legal team at Ross Feller Casey. We’ve recovered more than $3 billion for our clients, and our lawyers and doctor-lawyers are ready to put their experience to work for you.
Keep in mind that the state of Pennsylvania requires that claims for medical malpractice be filed within two years of the date of injury. It can take time to investigate and gather the evidence needed to prove your case, so don’t wait another minute. Consultations are always free, and there’s no fee unless you win. It’s time to get the justice you and your family deserve.
Disclaimer: Ross Feller Casey, LLP provides legal advice only after an attorney-client relationship is formed. Our website is an introduction to the firm and does not create a relationship between our attorneys and clients. An attorney-client relationship is formed only after a written agreement is signed by the client and the firm. Because every case is unique, the description of awards and summary of cases successfully handled are not intended to imply or guarantee that same success in other cases. Ross Feller Casey, LLP represents catastrophically injured persons and their families in injury and wrongful death cases, providing legal representation in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.