Leeseberg & Valentine

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Some hospitals do not follow minimum standards to prevent errors

Many medical facilities are working hard to improve their standard of care. This includes instituting protocols for distributing medications, checklists before surgery and security measures to protect patient safety and privacy. Nevertheless, medical mistakes continue to be among the leading causes of death in the United States.

Over a decade ago, the National Quality Forum, a patient safety organization, listed 29 medical mistakes that should never happen, labeling them "never events." Since then, patient advocates have been trying to help hospitals and medical professionals to improve in their standard of care to avoid such incidents. If you suffered from a never event, you may wonder what to do next.

Always say never!

Patient safety organizations like Leapfrog Group are trying to standardize hospital reactions to never events. They believe that patients like you deserve honest and fair treatment when a medical professional makes an error that causes you to suffer. By following certain steps, hospitals may improve their quality of care and avoid other patients going through the same suffering as you have. The basic steps your hospital should have taken after your injury include:

  • Apologizing to you
  • Waiving any expenses (to you or your insurance) related to the error
  • Reporting the never event to the appropriate state board or to a patient safety organization
  • Conducting a formal investigation into the cause of the mistake to prevent future injuries

The hospital should also have a copy of its never event policies ready to give to you if you ask. The shocking fact is that only a small percentage of hospitals across the country responded positively to Leapfrog's recent survey about how well medical facilities are enforcing these minimal standards. In seven states, including Ohio, fewer than 60 percent of hospitals follow these steps. Perhaps the hospital that admitted you does not have these policies in place.

Seeking a peaceful resolution

After the trauma and confusion following your medical injury, you likely are not interested in a long court battle. However, you suspect that the compensation the insurance company or hospital administration has offered is not going to cover your care and treatment for very long. Perhaps you feel the best option for you is to reach a better settlement without going to trial.

Seeking full and fair compensation for your injury and suffering is not an easy job, and there is a limited window of time for you to pursue such a claim. You may not feel up to it while you are still recovering. An attorney with years of success reaching record settlements will advocate on your behalf. While settling out of court may be preferred, such an attorney will not shy away from litigating if it is necessary.

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