Hospital transfers where a specialist takes over a new patient are fairly common. However, as this distressing malpractice account demonstrates, there are significant risks associated with such scenarios, both for the patient and the specialist if the patient has multiple ongoing health issues and is on complex and diverse medications.
Taking over such a patient without adequate investigation and discussion into the past history as well as the medications can result in an undesirable outcome and a lawsuit. Some points to consider are:
- The documentation of a patient transfer is the most critical and helpful tool in the hands of a specialist taking over their treatment. Among other things, it contains details about the patient’s condition, reason to transfer, details and status of vital signs before the transfer and the treatment given. It also includes various reports of clinical investigations and diagnostics that a specialist can study before taking over.
- The communication between the original physician and the receiving physician at the time of transfer and throughout patient care is the key to right treatment.
- A discussion regarding the prescriptions and medication that the patient is on and whether there is a need to continue or discontinue them.
It is easy to comprehend the importance of the above factors in taking over a new patient. Unfortunately though, deaths and subsequent lawsuits resulting out of hospital transfer malpractices are all about casual documentation and missed communications.