Hospitals too often fail to prevent history from repeating

Recently, a child visited a hospital for treatment, was sent home and later died due to an infection that the hospital knew about but didn’t report to the family. That failure in communication limited the family’s opportunity to try to get further medical attention for their 12-year-old. Perhaps he would be alive today if it weren’t for the medical mistake.

Whether the family in that tragic case is moving forward with a medical malpractice lawsuit is not yet public knowledge. And some who have done their research into medical errors within certain hospitals might have strong doubt that a lawsuit — or any heavy negative attention for that matter — would make a safety difference in medical facilities.

PropPublica reports on medical errors within a few different hospitals in the U.S. and highlights how not even serious medical errors within a facility lead to more careful work in that facility. There have been multiple incidents, for example, of medical professionals in the same hospital working on the wrong sides of patients.

Whereas many people tend to learn from their mistakes and the mistakes made around them, it seems as though certain medical workers don’t work that way. It’s a frustrating and scary truth that should wake patients up to how important it is for them to speak up, ask questions and demand clear, consistent, honest communication.

It can be easy for patients to get nervous or feel unqualified to challenge doctors and ask them questions. But doctors are people. They might have a medical license and be more knowledgeable about medical matters than their patients, but they make mistakes. Not only do patients need to keep that in mind, but hospitals and regulators in the medical field overall need to keep that in mind and require and monitor changes to protect patients from malpractice.

Source: ProPublica, “Why Medicine Can’t Seem to Fix Simple Mistakes,” July 20, 2012

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