In a state northeast of Florida, a group of analysts, patient advocates, hospital leaders and government representatives recently gathered to discuss the apparent rise in adverse events that have occurred in certain hospitals. Medical malpractice incidents more than doubled at some of the facilities included in the study between 2012 and 2013. One senator serving on the task force stated that he believes many of the errors were preventable.
A doctor who is acting vice chairman of surgery reported that there is an unspoken rule among medical staff that warns employees never to question the authority of staff members who rank higher than themselves. He said that errors would begin to decrease if a new paradigm were to be instilled that would allow staff to question those above them without fearing retribution. A state public health commissioner, also a physician, stated that it is crucial for hospital staff to freely admit errors so as to open lines of communication and possibly prevent the same errors going forward.
U.S. Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut, where the medical facilities focused upon in the study are located, reported plans for a new payment system that awards quality care by offering reimbursements to hospitals for good performances. Those present at the recent meeting also listed the need to educate the public and encourage patients to take a proactive stance in their own medical care as another means of potentially preventing medical error. Asking attending physicians or nursing staff if they have washed their hands before being treated was mentioned as an example of proactive interest.
Most hospitals, including those in Florida, have room for improvement with regard to increasing patient safety and decreasing errors that lead to medical malpractice. Unfortunately, it is an ongoing process, and thousands of patients suffer injury, illness and — in worst case scenarios — death because of negligence on the part of medical staff. Florida residents who have suffered under similar circumstances have the right to consult a legal professional with experience in medical malpractice cases in order to consider filing a legal claim in a civil court. A successfully litigated claim could result in a monetary judgment that could help pay for medical expenses and other financial damages brought about by a medical crisis.
Source: nhregister.com, “Errors at Connecticut hospitals doubled in 2013“, Mary E. O’Leary, March 30, 2015