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Hospitals Rarely Disclose Errors They Make

By Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo Plotkin & Hellman LLP

All hospitals make mistakes, they are run by people, it is inevitable. But when a hospital makes a mistake, most people expect the doctor and hospital to come forward and explain the error so that everyone can work together to correct it. Everyone has a friend or relative that has a horror story regarding hospital care. To test those stories, ProPublica conducted a three year survey of all 50 states and the District of Columbia to measure hospital errors and other associated events.

ProPublica surveyed more than 1,000 people and sent them a detailed questionnaire that allowed the respondents to expand upon their experiences. They found that only one in five people reported that the hospital disclosed that an error had occurred. Moreover, in about half of those cases the hospital divulged the information only after threats of a lawsuit or official complaint. ProPublica also found that only one in eight people received an apology.

It is in these scenarios that an attorney can assist you. Hospitals naturally will close up and try to protect itself from liability. This runs counter to your goals which are to get information and to understand what precisely happened.

Unfortunately, only hospitals in 10 states are required to reveal medical errors or mistakes. Additionally, two-thirds of the states grant immunity from liability for healthcare providers that apologize for the error.

According to Dr. Eric Thomas, an expert on patient safety and care from the University of Texas, Medical School, covering errors is both bad for patients and for hospitals. It removes from hospitals the opportunity to identify issues and improve care. Unless errors are disclosed, hospital may make the same mistakes over and over again. In fact, since errors are not disclosed, treating physicians may not even be aware of the full extent of the patient’s injuries.

If you were injured due to hospital negligence then you may want to consult with an attorney that has experience in medical malpractice litigation. These cases can be extraordinarily complex and often require a deft hand to maneuver them through expert witnesses, evidence gathering and testimony. A lawyer can help you prepare your case to ensure that you recover fair compensation for your injuries.

Picture of Edward A. Ruffo, Partner

Edward A. Ruffo, Partner

Mr. Ruffo currently litigates cases at the state and federal levels in New York and New Jersey and has obtained numerous multi-million dollar medical damage awards for his clients. He has been annually ranked as a Top 10 and Top 100 Trial Lawyer by numerous professional societies including The National Trial Lawyers Association.

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