While multi-million dollar hospitals are booming in urban South Carolina, the old guard is falling into decay. Most of South Carolina’s rural hospitals were constructed in the mid 20th century with federal funds. In the following decades, they generally served the needs of their communities well and were fully staffed and prosperous.
“Way back in the 70s and 80s – that was a long time ago now – I don’t recall necessarily feeling like it was overwhelming or that it was just impossible for this organization to meet all the challenges and stay afloat,” said the Administrator of Allendale County Hospital. “The last few years probably have become a bit more challenging.”
Why are South Carolina’s Rural Hospitals Failing?
The current state of rural hospitals is bleak. Altogether, South Carolina’s 19 rural hospitals lost $25 million from 2008 – 2012. Seventeen hospitals have closed or been suspended in the past year alone. Allendale did not deliver a single baby last year and had the lowest occupancy rate in all of South Carolina.
Unemployment is high in rural South Carolina, which has resulted in a population with few options when a person falls ill or is in need of medical specialists. Unfortunately, rural hospitals such as Allendale are having serious difficulty recruiting skilled specialists to come work. Those who can afford to drive the extra miles to a newly furnished urban hospital are bypassing rural hospitals, even if they do not require a specialist.
Rural hospitals attempted to band together into a hospital system; however, the merger was a failure which resulted in the closure of Bamberg County Hospital, sister hospital to Allendale. Meanwhile, North Charleston-based Trident Health generated nearly $300 million in profit from 2008-2012.
Who is Affected by South Carolina Rural Hospital Closures?
Hospital failures affect rural populations and lower-income populations most heavily. Allendale County houses one of the most impoverished and illness-prone populations in South Carolina. Since the recession, unemployment has reached 10 percent and most of those in need cannot afford to pay their medical bills.
Unfortunately, when funding is low and hospitals are understaffed, such a situation creates a hotbed for medical malpractice. Many injuries from medical malpractice are often the result of understaffing and overworking of doctors, nurses and other hospital staff. Failure to diagnose, misdiagnosis and surgical errors are common forms of medical malpractice which can yield fatal results.
Have Your Situation Reviewed by a Medical Malpractice Attorney
It is always difficult to know whether a poor outcome from a hospital visit or surgery is the result of medical malpractice or simply an unavoidable side effect. However, a medical malpractice attorney is able to review the medical chart with qualified experts. Only if a medical expert (not the attorney him or herself) agrees that a mistake caused an injury would there be a case for malpractice.
It takes time to review the documents and determine what happened after a possible hospital mistake. Our Columbia medical malpractice lawyers offer free, no obligation case consultations to investigate situations of suspected medical malpractice. Remember, there is a limited time to file a claim and evidence grows stale over time. Do not hesitate to contact our office if you believe you have been injured due to a health care professional’s mistake.