Harm to patients in medical facilities happens far more than it should. A September 2013 report in the Journal of Patient Safety now posits a lower estimate of patient deaths as a result of medical negligence at approximately 210,000 per year; the higher end of the spectrum rises to 400,000. Because these statistics only account for deaths, the number of non-fatal injuries that occur may be significantly higher.
In order to detect and identify adverse events resulting in patient harm that occur in medical facilities, hospitals use incident reporting systems. In theory, each adverse event would be reported to the system, which then would allow administrators to track a pattern of events and make necessary changes to improve patient safety.
Far too often, incidents are not reported, changes aren’t made, and patients are injured as a result. And if you happened to be injured or a loved one was lost due to medical negligence in the Phoenix area, we want you to understand your rights and how to recover compensation.
The Failure of Incident Reporting Systems
Medical practitioners are supposed to report all instances of patient harm to incident reporting systems. And this net reaches far and wide: surgeons, physicians, anesthesiologists, nurses, and everyone else involved in treatment should report incidents related to patient safety.
Unfortunately, and to the detriment of patients’ health, this happens far less than it should. A January 2012 report by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Inspector General estimated the rate that these systems captured events that Medicare beneficiaries, discharged from acute care facilities in October 2008, experienced during their care. It claims that, of the events occurring within the scope of the study, 86 percent were not reported by hospital staff. Furthermore, while nurses reportedly most often reported adverse events, only 28 of the 40 reported events led to investigations, and five resulted in changes in policy.
What This Means for Your Case
Many people simply associate medical negligence and medical malpractice with botched surgeries or incorrect prescriptions or diagnoses because these demonstrate a tangible and understandable situation in which a medical professional failed to uphold a certain standard of care. Furthermore, in both of these situations, a patient is likely to sustain injuries or additional illness as a result.
But just as a surgeon’s mistake or physician’s error can lead to harm, so can the failure to report the harm that does occur within the hospital to incident reporting systems. If a nurse, surgeon, or other medical practitioner fails to report a harmful event to the incident reporting system, it prevents an investigation from occurring. Of course, the same goes for administrator negligence; if events are reported correctly, it is up to the hospital to make the necessary policy changes in order to protect the health of patients in the future.
If I’ve Been Hurt by a Medical Professional, What Should I Do?
Naturally, if you have been hurt at the hands of a medical professional, you may be traumatized by the experience. Do understand that there is only a certain amount of time in which you can act; Arizona law only provides a period of two years to file a malpractice claim, after which you will be denied from bringing a claim.
If you suffered injuries because of medical negligence in Phoenix—regardless of whether it was reported to incident reporting systems—please don’t hesitate to reach out to us today at Snyder & Wenner, P.C. for legal assistance. With our help, you can hold responsible those who injured you. Contact us today either online or by calling us at 602-224-0005.