More and more rural hospitals are closing throughout Georgia due to financial problems and payment cuts for emergency services. The latest rural Georgia hospital to announce its closing is Lower Oconee Community Hospital in southeast Georgia. It becomes the state’s fourth rural hospital to close in the past two years.
Fewer hospitals and more patients likely means that many Georgia residents won’t get the quality of medical treatment they need – which can lead to claims of medical malpractice.
Why Lower Oconee Community Hospital Is Calling It Quits
According to The Telegraph, Lower Oconee Community Hospital, located in Glenwood Georgia (Wheeler County), is a 25-bed “critical access” hospital that has fallen on hard times.
Wheeler County has a 23 percent uninsured rate, 10 percent of residents are unemployed and 41 percent of the county’s children live in poverty. Those issues, coupled with emergency service payments cuts, finally forced the hospital’s owners to throw in the towel.
Some of the hospital’s 100 employees have already been laid off and the owners are considering whether they can restructure their business to provide some sort of sustainable urgent care medical services to Glenwood area residents.
Many states, such as neighboring South Carolina, have raised the Medicaid reimbursements they pay to keep struggling rural hospitals open. However, Georgia’s current spending on Medicaid is among the lowest in the nation. State lawmakers have repeatedly rejected Medicaid expansion due to the additional costs to residents.
For now, Glenwood area residents will have to travel roughly 30 miles to Vidalia, Dublin or Eastman to get care. That may have an effect on the type of care patients receive due to doctors and nurses simply having too many patients to treat. When doctors are rushing from patient to patient, they are more likely to misdiagnose a condition or fail to diagnose a problem.
Fewer Facilities & More Patients Can Increase Risks of Medical Malpractice
It’s not difficult to see that having fewer healthcare facilities and more patients needing treatment can lead to an increased risk of medical malpractice. When doctors, nurses and other licensed healthcare professionals are trying to see more patients in the same amount of time, personal injuries are more likely – especially in emergency room settings where every minute counts.
Some of the most common forms of medical malpractice include:
- Anesthesia errors – including administering the wrong type or dose of anesthesia or, in some cases, failing to provide the proper flow of oxygen to the patient.
- Birth injuries – including Cerebral palsy (a group of disorders that can involve brain and nervous system functions), Brachial plexus palsy (an injury that affects the network of nerves that sends signals from your spine to your shoulder, arm and hand), Erb’s palsy and Klumpke’s palsy (variations of Brachial palsy), bruising, surface injuries, cephalohematoma (a collection of blood under the skull) and other brain injuries.
- Medication errors – including prescribing or administering the wrong type or dose of a medication.
- Misdiagnosis – including failure to diagnose.
- Surgical errors – including injuries caused by operations being performed on the wrong site, unsanitary instruments being used or foreign objects being left in a patient’s body.
If you’ve been injured due to the negligence of a healthcare provider, contact an experienced Georgia medical malpractice lawyer to analyze your situation and determine whether you and your family might be entitled to compensation.