Hospitals used to be the place that patients went to be treated. Now it is the place that more than 250,000 people per year never leave. These patients – the ones that never return home – are not victims of circumstance, taken from their families by an injury or illness too severe to treat. Instead, they are the victims of preventable medical error. They die by the very hands that are meant to save them.
Prevalence of these errors has increased to the point that they are now the third leading cause of death in America. Headlines and news outlets have announced this from the rooftops and all over the internet. In response, hospitals have vowed to change, but are they making a real, honest commitment, or are they simply feeding concerned citizens a bunch of empty promises?
The History of Preventable Medical Errors
Back in 1999, the Institute of Medicine published the report, To Err is Human. This ground-breaking and then-controversial study determined that as many as 44,000 patients died each year from medical mistakes. Many hospitals and physicians refuted its accuracy, but they also promised to do better. They reportedly implemented new systems, technology, and control mechanisms to improve patient outcomes. Yet, new evidence suggests that all of their work and efforts (if there were, in fact, any made) have failed miserably. More patients are dying today from their mistakes than they were just a little more than a decade ago, and now we have been given more promises that things will change.
Talks of Moving to Transparency to Improve Outcomes
Even most children know that one should own up to their mistakes and apologize when they have done wrong. Unfortunately, hospitals have shied away from this form of human decency. Out of fear of a medical malpractice lawsuit, they have taught physicians to avoid accepting any blame. Some have even attempted to cover up any mistakes that have been made, leaving the families of patients confused, heartbroken, and feeling as though something was “off” about the entire situation. These victims are right, of course, but no one would give them the honest answers that they deserved.
Studies have indicated that patients are more likely to bring a lawsuit if they feel as though the hospital or the physician are being dishonest or deceptive. Furthermore, many physicians have claimed that they feel uncomfortable and anxious when they are prompted to hide a mistake. This, in turn, has caused hospitals to reconsider how they handle medical errors. Some have even moved to a more transparent stance, being honest and open when a mistake is made. Will more hospitals take that leap? Only time will tell for certain.
Victim of a Medical Error? Our Crystal Lake Medical Malpractice Attorneys Can Help
Patients who are injured or killed because of a medical error have the right to seek compensation for their losses. Unfortunately, the legal process for doing so is highly complex and is full of potential pitfalls. For this reason, victims and their families should always seek assistance from an experienced medical malpractice attorney when filing a malpractice claim.
At Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC, we have the skills and experience needed to effectively represent you and your loved ones in a medical malpractice claim. Dedicated to your best interests, and in helping you achieve justice, we will aggressively fight to get you the compensation you deserve. Schedule an initial consultation with our Crystal Lake medical malpractice attorneys today to learn more. Call us at 847-934-6000.
About the Author: Attorney Ken Apicella is a founding partner of DGAA focusing in the areas of personal injury, employment, insurance coverage disputes, and civil litigation. Ken earned his J.D. from DePaul University College of Law in 1999. He has been named a SuperLawyers Rising Star and a Forty Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch. Ken has written and lectured for the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education and regularly serves as a moderator at Northwest Suburban Bar Association's Continuing Legal Education seminars.