We have previously written about Nursing Home Negligence and Elder Abuse in Oklahoma long-term care facilities.

Similarly, hospitals have standards of care for taking care of patients. Similar to nursing homes, hospitals have a duty of care to those admitted to the hospital, to ensure they get adequate medical attention, compliant with generally accepted standards of care.

Hospital patients can suffer the consequences of negligent care, just like nursing home residents can suffer from poor nursing home care. However, there are many differences between the typical short-term hospital stay from the long-term nursing home stay.

A primary difference between the two scenarios is that nursing home residents almost always have a host of comorbidities that make them more susceptible to illness and to complications during any type of medical intervention.

In this blog post, we will take a closer look at the issue of comorbidities in the context of a person who was harmed as a result of improper medical treatment and how their own comorbidities can affect their ability to prove their case in an Oklahoma Court.

What are Co-Morbidities?

According to Wikipedia:

In medicine, comorbidity is the presence of one or more additional conditions often co-occurring (that is, concomitant or concurrent with) with a primary condition. Comorbidity describes the effect of all other conditions an individual patient might have other than the primary condition of interest, and can be physiological or psychological.

Comorbidity can indicate either a condition existing simultaneously, but independently with another condition or a related medical condition. The latter sense of the term causes some overlap with the concept of complications.

Wikipedia. Retrieved 09/14/2020. < https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comorbidity >

As we can see from the above definition, having co-morbidities means that a person has multiple medical conditions.

Persons with multiple Co-Morbidities are at a higher risk for complications during medical treatment in Oklahoma Hospitals and Nursing Homes

The stark reality is that a person with many co-morbidities has a higher chance of something going wrong when they go in for treatment.

A person that is obese, has diabetes, COPD, high blood pressure, and needs dialysis is a person that has a lot of health issues. If they go into the ER because they can’t breath, the hospital has a lot of things it must do to make sure it doesn’t adversely affect one of the other co-morbidities while trying to treat the immediate primary concern for the visit.

This is a double edged sword that both creates additional responsibilities for the medical provider, but also means that the patient is more likely to suffer adverse consequences.

This is often seen in the context of a person who acquires a pressure ulcer in a nursing home versus a person who acquires a pressure ulcer at a hospital.

Nursing Home patients tend to be older and have more co-morbidities than general hospital patients. Therefore, nursing home patients are usually at a higher risk for things like bedsores/pressure ulcers. For these same reasons, Nursing Home patients are at a higher risk of dying while under the care of the facility.

Why is this? Because the more health issues going on with a person, the harder it is to treat and cure that person. This is not an excuse for negligence, but more so a recognition by everyone – the hospital, the courts, the lawyers involved – that there is a greater chance of something going wrong when treating a person that has many co-morbidities.

It is also for this reason that certain injuries – such as pressure ulcers – that accrue from short-term hospital stays are so shocking, and making the hospital much more culpable for the injury due to the short duration of the stay and the lack of co-morbidities of the patient.  

All Patients are entitled to proper medical care when they enter a Hospital or a Nursing Home in Oklahoma

It is true that defense attorneys for hospitals and nursing homes will often argue that the person’s injuries, pressure ulcers, or death, were caused by the co-morbidities, not the medical treatment. In fact, they raise this argument in every single case. Sometimes there is legitimacy to this argument, and some times it does not apply at all.

Regardless of the comorbidities a person suffers from, all people are entitled to proper medical care when they seek treatment at a hospital or a nursing home. This does not mean that a dying person is entitled to live simply by being admitted to hospice program; it just means that the care provided should follow accepted standards of care when administering treatment.

Experienced Attorney for Medical Negligence Injuries with Comorbidities in Oklahoma

If you have questions or concerns about negligent treatment that resulted in permanent injuries or disabilities, you should seek an opinion of another health care provider. You may also seek an opinion of an attorney, who can bring in an independent medical examiner to review your health care.

To have your case screened by an experienced hospital negligence lawyer, you may call 405-724-8112 or send us an email.

In our next article, we will discuss specifically hospital acquired pressure ulcers.