Nevada fines 2 hospitals for unsafe discharges

Since 2018, Nevada has discovered 11 discharge issues among seven Las Vegas-area hospitals, resulting in fines of $800 and $1,500, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported Nov. 30.

The state's Bureau of Health Care Quality and Compliance fined Prime Healthcare Services' North Vista Hospital $800 in 2018 after a patient on suicide watch lacked a safe discharge plan. Four years later, Universal Health Services' Valley Hospital was fined $1,500 after a wheelchair user was escorted "with only a walker" without "a plan for self-care," the Review-Journal found. 

North Vista also failed to notify a guardian before discharging a patient who had a mental illness in 2022, which did not result in a fine.

"Patient safety and quality care is our top priority at North Vista Hospital," a spokesperson told Becker's. "In reference to both incidents, our staff have been re-educated and trained on safe discharge processes and understand their role and accountability in ensuring that the process is followed."

Six of the 11 hospital discharge problems happened at UHS hospitals, with three repeat offenses at Desert Springs Hospital Medical Center. 

A spokesperson for Valley Health System told Becker's the Las Vegas-based system had no comment. Becker's has reached out to Universal Health Services and will update the story if more information becomes available.

It's rare for the state to report a hospital discharge incident, and experts said the problem is larger than it seems. There's sparse national data on discharge failures, and anecdotes suggest unsafe discharges are a significant issue, Charleen Hsuan, PhD, an assistant professor of health policy and administration at Pennsylvania State University, told the Review-Journal

Among the nine discharge problems that did not result in a fine, reasons ranged from failing to notify a guardian to "discharging a partially blind, diabetic woman to an unregulated facility."

What's missing from these reports is a growing problem of hospitals discharging patients to homeless shelters. 

Kathi Thomas, who works for the city of Las Vegas as the director of community services, told the Review-Journal a discharged patient who is medically fragile shows up at least once a week at the homeless resource center. 

"They have come in Ubers or taxis. Or they show up in a hospital gown with their hind parts showing," Ms. Thomas said. "We don't always know the backstory. But it happens frequently enough that we've been concerned. … I think it's a disservice to human beings."

Read more here.

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