Part of most healthcare conversations before tests, treatments, or procedures are performed is a review of possible hospital complications.  And while we all hope that we never become a statistic, the fact is that our knowledge and consent only go so far.  We must still rely on the hospital and healthcare providers to do their part in preventing complications as they treat our ailments.

Many hospitals do a great job of protecting their patients, but some have room for improvement.  Recently, our Houston medical malpractice attorney reviewed data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) that was disheartening. The data suggests some Texas hospitals have higher than average complication rates.   CMS data provides information about hospitals that fall below the national benchmark on various measures, including hospital complications and complication-related death rates.

hospital, medical center, complications

Based on CMS data, the most common hospital complications in Texas include the following:

Pressure Sores

Pressure sores – also called bedsores or decubitus ulcers – are considered one of the most common preventable hospital complications.  Pressure sores are a complication that is most common among patients with limited mobility.  These injuries can be prevented by healthcare providers following standard practices for repositioning and monitoring patients.

According to data from CMS, the following Texas hospitals ranked below the national benchmark in terms of pressure sore rates:

  • Guadalupe Regional Medical Center (Seguin)
  • Dell Seton Medical Center at the University of Texas (Austin)
  • Hendrick Medical Center (Abilene)
  • Texoma Medical Center (Denison)
  • University Health Center (San Antonio)
  • Christus Santa Rosa Medical Center (San Antonio)
  • Clear Lake Regional Medical Center (Webster)
  • Southwest General Hospital (San Antonio)
  • Bay Area Regional Medical Center, LLC (Webster)

Perioperative Hemorrhage or Hematoma

Bleeding that occurs in a patient during the course of an operation is called perioperative hemorrhage or hematoma.  While bleeding during an operation is often part of the body’s natural process, excessive bleeding can be dangerous.  It is important for healthcare providers to recognize patients who are at risk for perioperative hemorrhage or hematoma and take steps to prevent bleeding.  Patients most at risk include:

  • Patients with advanced liver disease
  • Patients undergoing high-risk surgeries (cardiac, cancer, or trauma-related)
  • High-risk obstetrics patients
  • Patients with bleeding disorders

Perioperative hemorrhage or  hematoma is one of the measures ranked by CMS.  A few Texas hospitals ranked below the national benchmark.  These hospitals were:

  • Baylor Scott & White Medical Center (Temple)
  • Wadley Regional Medical Center (Texarkana)
  • Lubbock Heart Hospital (Lubbock)

Postoperative Acute Kidney Injury Requiring Dialysis

Postoperative acute kidney injury (AKI) is a common complication following many surgeries.  Some estimates suggest that AKI can occur in as much as 40 percent of surgery patients.  These surgical complications can increase the risk of chronic kidney disease, hemodialysis, and death within seven years.

Several Texas hospitals have ranked below the national benchmark in terms of AKI rates.  These hospitals include:

  • Baylor University Medical Center (Dallas)
  • Houston Methodist Hospital (Houston)
  • Baptist St. Anthony’s Hospital (Amarillo)

Deaths Among Patients with Serious Treatable Complications after Surgery

Serious but treatable hospital complications following surgery include a range of conditions, such as:

  • Pneumonia
  • Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
  • Sepsis
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Gastrointestinal hemorrhage (acute ulcer)

While serious, these complications are treatable if recognized and treated within a timely manner.  Of course, there are variables in any medical situation based on the individual, overall health, comorbid conditions, etc.  CMS measures death rates among patients with serious treatable complications after surgery, and has listed a few Texas hospitals as having fallen below the national benchmark.  These hospitals are:

  • Baylor University Medical Center (Dallas)
  • Shannon Medical Center (San Angelo)
  • University Medical Center (Lubbock)

Serious Blood Clots after Surgery

Blood clots are a major concern after any surgical procedure.  Blood clots are called pulmonary embolism (PE).  PE occurs when blood thickens or sticks together.  When this happens inside the vein, blood flow may be restricted, which can be life-threatening.  Another risk of blood clots is that they can sometimes dislodge and travel through the bloodstream to other parts of the body, including the lungs or brain.  Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is one of the most common types of PE, and is the most common type of blood clot occurring after abdominal, pelvic, hip, or leg surgery.

According to data gathered by CMS, several Texas hospitals had high rates of serious blood clots after surgery.  The hospitals that fell below the national benchmark for these hospital complications include:

  • University Medical Center of El Paso (El Paso)
  • University of Texas Medical Branch (Galveston)
  • Memorial Hermann Texas Medical Center (Houston)
  • Providence Health Center (Waco)
  • Texas Health Harris Methodist (Fort Worth)
  • Houston Methodist Hospital (Houston)
  • UT Southwestern University Hospital – Zale Lipshy (Dallas)

Postoperative Respiratory Failure Rate

Respiratory failure is a serious complication after a surgical procedure.  Respiratory failure occurs when the lungs cannot adequately take oxygen from the air and supply the bloodstream, or the lungs cannot adequately eliminate carbon dioxide (CO2).  Postoperative respiratory failure is most common in patients who:

  • Have a history of smoking
  • Are an active smoker
  • Experienced severe head trauma or a severe spinal cord injury
  • Are obese
  • Are allergic to, or had an adverse reaction to, anesthetic drugs
  • Underwent procedures such as thoracic surgery, back or neck surgery, or coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG).

Postoperative respiratory failure rates are measured by CMS, with hospital ratings compared to a national benchmark.  Hospitals in Texas that have ranked below the national benchmark in postoperative respiratory failure rates include:

  • Dell Seton Medical Center at the University of Texas (Austin)
  • Christus Southeast Texas – St. Elizabeth (Beaumont)
  • Joseph Medical Center (Houston)
  • Methodist Hospital (San Antonio)
  • Conroe Regional Medical Center (Conroe)
  • Northwest Texas Hospital (Amarillo)
  • Methodist Richardson Medical Center (Richardson)
  • Medical Center of Plano (Plano)
  • West Houston Medical Center (Houston)
  • Southwest General Hospital (San Antonio)
  • Baylor Scott & White Medical Center (College Station)

Bloodstream Infection After Surgery

Bloodstream infections are one of the more serious hospital complications.  Most common after surgery, bloodstream infections may be related to the surgery itself, or may be the result of poor care.  Bloodstream infections are often caused by the catheters or IV lines used during surgery and recovery.  They can also be caused by bacteria entering the body via the surgical site (called a surgical site infection).  If not treated properly and quickly, a bloodstream infection can lead to sepsis, which is dangerous and sometimes life-threatening.

Bloodstream infection rates are monitored by CMS.  Datasets provide information on hospitals that fall below the national benchmark or have high rates of bloodstream infections.  In Texas, these hospitals include:

  • Baylor Scott & White Medical Center (Temple)
  • Joseph Medical Center (Houston)
  • North Cypress Medical Center (Cypress)

Rate of Complications among Hip/Knee Replacement Patients

Like any surgery, hip and knee replacement surgeries have a risk of complications.  Some of the more common hip or knee replacement complications include:

  • Infection
  • Blood clots
  • Breathing problems
  • Dislocation of the new joint
  • Allergic reaction to the materials in the joint

CMS gathers data on the rate of complications associated with hip and knee replacement surgeries.  Though the dataset does not specify all the types of complications included, it does list hospitals that fall below the national benchmark.  For Texas, that includes:

  • Wise Regional Health System (Decatur)
  • Memorial Hermann Hospital System (Houston)
  • UT Southwestern University Hospital – Zale Lipshy (Dallas)

Serious Complications

Though not detailed in the CMS dataset, serious hospital complications are a serious concern across the U.S.  Serious complications may include pain, vomiting, bleeding, blood clots, pneumonia, infection, and others.  Texas hospitals that have ranked below the national benchmark in terms of serious complication rates include:

  • Joseph Medical Center (Houston)
  • Providence Health Center (Waco)
  • Dell Seton Medical Center at the University of Texas (Austin)
  • Tomball Regional Medical Center (Tomball)
  • Southwest General Hospital (San Antonio)
  • North Cypress Medical Center (Cypress)
  • Bay Area Regional Medical Center (Webster)

Death

The most severe complication anyone can experience is death.  Sadly, death rates at some U.S.  hospitals are higher than others, with many being the result of preventable hospital complications.  Several Texas hospitals have ranked below the national benchmark on death rates, including:

  • Death Rate for Stroke Patients
    • Peterson Regional Medical Center (Kerrville)
    • Baptist Medical Center (San Antonio)
    • Northwest Texas Hospital (Amarillo)
    • Medical Center of Plano (Plano)
    • Plaza Medical Center of Fort Worth (Fort Worth)
  • Death Rate for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Patients
    • Covenant Medical Center (Lubbock)
    • Texas Health Harris Methodist (Fort Worth)
    • Nacognoches Medical Center (Nacogdoches)
    • Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital (Azle)
  • Death Rate for Heart Attack Patients
    • Laredo Medical Center (Laredo)
    • UT Health East Texas Tyler Regional Hospital (Tyler)
    • Baptist Medical Center (San Antonio)
    • Wise Regional Health System (Decatur)
    • University Medical Center (Lubbock)
  • Death Rate for Heart Failure Patients
    • Midland Memorial Hospital (Midland)
    • Abilene Regional Medical Center (Abilene)
  • Death Rate for Pneumonia Patients
    • Midland Memorial Hospital (Midland)
    • Providence Health Center (Waco)
    • Methodist Dallas Medical Center (Dallas)
    • Hill Regional Hospital (Hillsboro)
    • Brownwood Regional Medical Center (Brownwood)
    • Coleman County Medical Center Company (Coleman)
  • Death Rate for Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting (CABG) Surgery Patients
    • Citizens Medical Center (Victoria)
    • Baptist Medical Center (San Antonio)
    • Wise Regional Health System (Decatur)
    • Sierra Medical Center (El Paso)
    • University Medical Center (Lubbock)

How Common are Hospital Complications?

Estimates suggest that each year in the U.S., around 15,000 people die due to medical complications.   Another 1.5 million people suffer the effects of medical complications within 30 days of having a surgical procedure.   Hospital complications increase the risk of readmissions, increase mortality rates, and cost around $25 billion each year.

If you are concerned about hospital complications and your health or legal rights, you may find it helpful to contact a medical malpractice attorney to discuss your situation.

Sources

https://www.allaboutbleeding.com/hcp/perioperative-bleeding.aspx

https://www.karger.com/Article/FullText/439387

https://www.qualityindicators.ahrq.gov/Downloads/Modules/PSI/V45/TechSpecs/PSI%2004%20Death%20among%20Surgical%20Inpatients.pdf

https://www.webmd.com/dvt/blood-clots-after-surgery#1

https://www.lahey.org/Departments_and_Locations/Departments/Pulmonary_and_Critical_Care_Medicine/Postoperative_Respiratory_Failure.aspx

https://www.infectiousdiseaseadvisor.com/hospital-infection-control/bloodstream-infections/article/598098/

https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000375.htm

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