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The real danger of medical errors going unreported

Yesterday, the Chicago medical malpractice lawyers discussed one state’s medical error reporting program and its flaws. These flaws have real, human, personal effects that the Chicago personal injury attorneys wanted to address. Numerous real people with real families are harmed on a yearly basis by faulty medical care. One example addressed in the SeattlePI.com article was a 47 year-old construction worker who died after a simple outpatient arthroscopic shoulder surgery. His situation demonstrated one such case showing the ease in which hospitals are able to dodge the intent of the law. This young father was otherwise healthy when he went in for his surgery and he died due to medical errors. However, hospital officials concluded that the circumstances surrounding the death of the 47 year-old man did not fit any of the state’s reporting laws definitions of “serious reportable events.” More unbelievable is that the state Department of Health Officials agreed with the hospital’s determination that they were not required to report the case of medical malpractice. His manner of death due to medical error did not quite fit any of the 28 available categories. If the medical malpractice victim had died within 24 hours of his surgery, then his death would have qualified as reportable as a postoperative death in a normal, healthy patient. But, the victim was revived and lived for another two days, with extensive brain injuries; so, his death was not considered to be an immediately postoperative death. Nonetheless, the Department of Health did take corrective action against the hospital.

Experts opined that the incident described above “unquestionably” should have been reported. Indeed, a senior advisor for patient safety at the organization which wrote the “serious reportable events” definitions acknowledged the problems in the wording of current definitions. The wording, as addressed above, allow hospitals to find loopholes and avoid reporting medical malpractice events. There are drafts in the works to reword the definitions in part to close the loopholes and address ambiguities.

Accurate information on a medical facility’s errors is important because prospective patients use record information to view medical malpractice reports and can decide to take their business elsewhere. Such a demand loss can influence hospitals to take extra precautions to avoid situations like the 47 year-old man’s wrongful death.

To read more about medical error reporting, visit SeattlePI.com.