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Spangenberg Shibely & Liber, LLP | Jun 24, 2012

Hospital Errors Often Go Unreported, Lead to Patient Injury

Categories: Articles

Prompt reporting of medical mistakes may mitigate the risk of further patient injury, but unfortunately some medical professionals are thinking twice before reporting mistakes that could lead to medical malpractice claims.

Tragically, over 80 percent of medical errors go unreported, according to the Office of the Inspector General. Errors can include events related to:

  • Medication: overdose or use of wrong drug
  • Patient care: failure to manage bed sores or help avoid falls
  • Surgery: clots and complications
  • Infection: respiratory- or catheter- related

Over half of surveyed medical professionals report that they believe their mistakes are held against them by an overly punitive hospital culture, according to a study completed by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

WHY DO SOME HEALTH PROFESSIONALS FAIL TO REPORT ERRORS?

Some believe that current punishment-based hospital culture gives the impression that officials are attacking those who report incidents. Instead, the focus needs to be fixing the problem: preventing avoidable medical errors. There is no reason why doctors and hospitals cannot take responsibility for mistakes by compensating those people they injury and implementing changes to fix the problem.

Patient safety leaders point to growing evidence that a culture focused on increasing safety and not punishing mistakes results in "better clinical outcomes and lower rates of hospital-acquired conditions," according to the American Medical Association.

WHAT CAN BE DONE TO REDUCE ERROR RATES?


A number of people advocate using checklists to reduce hospital errors. As reported by AARP, Atul Gawande, a surgeon, Harvard associate professor and author who promotes the use of medical checklists to save lives has said that, at "its deepest level, what we're now having trouble with is the enormous complexity of medicine." Gawande believes hospitals should copy aviation's multi-decade effort to create checklists covering safety procedures to eliminate human fallibility wherever possible.

If you or a loved one is injured while receiving care the physician, along with the hospital, may be liable for these injuries. Compensation is available to cover medical and rehabilitative costs as well as pain and suffering - but there is a statute of limitations clock running for any medical malpractice claim in which you must file your case. Finding an attorney early in the process is critical to preserving your rights.