Outdated patient health records source of patient uptick, discharge issues at Rhode Island hospital 

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Eleanor Slater Hospital, a state-run psychiatric hospital in Cranston, R.I., is pointing to outdated patient records, some older than a decade, as one of the driving factors behind discharge challenges it has been experiencing, according to a June 3 Providence Journal report. 

The hospital told state lawmakers that patient medical records that had not been updated for years, and in many cases since before 2000, were responsible for the sharp uptick in psychiatric patients on its campuses this year. 

The hospital said the number of psychiatric patients on its Zambarano campus in Burrillville, R.I., increased from 2 percent to 58 percent since last May, and from 49 percent to 79 percent hospital-wide, according to the report. 

For example, a patient admitted with a serious brain injury from a car accident may have arrived as a "medical" patient 10 years ago and, over time, developed dementia or some other behavioral problem that required drugs, placing them then in the "psychiatric" category, the hospital said. 

Eleanor Slater has also recently been accused of attempting to discharge some ventilator patients to another facility earlier this year without following proper discharge protocols. In April, a complaint prompted the state health department to survey Eleanor Slater, which concluded the hospital didn't follow its discharge policy when it sent a patient's documents to an outside facility without notifying the patient. Documents obtained by The Boston Globe show the hospital strengthened its discharge policy in response, and agreed to report to regulators for six months. 

This has been the only issue with the hospital's discharge policy since 2019, a spokesperson for the agency that manages Eleanor Slater said, adding that its patient record policy is now stricter than HIPAA. 

"ESH has now agreed to follow a policy that is stricter than HIPAA by obtaining patient or family consent before sharing such information in this situation," the spokesperson said. 

Click here to view the full report.


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