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Hospitals disclosing medical mistakes to reduce malpractice suits

| May 14, 2012 | Medical Malpractice |

Medical malpractice might not be as uncommon as one might think it is in Fayetteville. Mistakes can easily be made when doctors and nurses are negligent, or when hospitals fail to implement procedures to properly address emergency medical situations.

Sadly, these medical errors can result in serious or fatal injuries. And sometimes, patients are not even informed about a complication that occurred during surgery because a nurse or doctor had made a medical mistake. Medical professionals might attempt to hide these errors for fear of being sued if they are honest with patients.

To increase patient safety and to focus on the importance of being open and honest with patients, seven hospitals in Massachusetts are testing a pilot project that some believe could cut down on the costs of medical malpractice lawsuits for medical professionals while also making sure that victims receive fair settlements for their injuries as well as an apology.

The project is called “Road Map to Reform.” It asks that doctors and nurses be honest with patients about mistakes and that these professionals apologize for their errors. Sometimes when settlements are reach in medical malpractices lawsuits, hospitals and doctors might maintain that they were not at fault for one’s serious or fatal injuries. With an apology, victims of medical negligence and their families may feel better knowing that the mistake was acknowledged.

When medical malpractice cases do proceed to court, according to a retired physician involved with the reform program, it can take nearly six years for patients to receive any damages resulting from a lawsuit. Through this new program, patients may be able to get the compensation they need for their injuries much sooner.

However, there are drawbacks. Patients would have to waive their right to sue if they participate in the program, meaning they may not get fair representation or settlements for their injuries. Although North Carolina patients will not have to worry about this for now, the program could extend to other states. If this is the case, one can only hope that patient safety is put first instead of protecting doctors from medical malpractice lawsuits.

When patients are injured as a result of a hospital’s mistake or a surgeon’s error, the patient deserves to be compensated for any damages, especially if one’s injuries will significantly affect a patient for the rest of his or her life.

Source: boston.com, “Hospitals promise openness, apologies,” Liz Kowalczyk, April 18, 2012

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