A medical journal study released this month offers alarming evidence about the long-term prospects for stroke victims and raises broader questions about the way hospitals treat them. The study, originally published in the medical journal Stroke, and reported on by a number of mainstream media outlets, found that, as summarized by Bloomberg Businessweek: “within a year of having a stroke, almost two-thirds of Medicare patients die or wind up back in the hospital.”
According to Businessweek, the study looked at data covering over 91,000 Medicare patients at 625 hospitals nationwide. It covered the years 2003 to 2006 and found no change in the rates of rehospitalization or death over that period. One caveat, noted by outside experts interviewed by the magazine, is that a study like this – one focusing on older patients – can have a difficult time controlling for other medical issues the patients may be experiencing.
The study uncovered a death rate of 14.1 percent within the first 30 days after a stroke and 31.1 percent within a year. More alarmingly, “61.9 percent of stroke patients were readmitted to hospital or died within a year of their stroke,” Businessweek notes.
The results raise complex questions about wrongful death and medical malpractice both here in Oregon and elsewhere. Does this extraordinarily high rehospitalization rate indicate that the medical profession may not be handling stroke victims – especially those on Medicare – in the best way possible? Is a failure to question ‘standard’ practices leading to worse outcomes form patients?
As the medical profession begins to grapple with these questions the study’s findings are something loved-ones should keep in mind in considering whether a companion or relative has received the best and most appropriate treatment when hospitalized following a stroke. Consulting with a Portland medical malpractice and wrongful death attorney is a key first step toward protecting your family’s rights and ensuring that justice is done following a stroke or other medical tragedy.
Bloomberg Businessweek: Health Risks Rise for Medicare Patients in Year After Stroke
WebMD: Study Gives ‘Striking’ Snapshot of Stroke Prognosis
Centers For Disease Control & Prevention – Stroke Information Page