It has been more than a decade since the Institute of Medicine published the report, "To Err is Human." The findings estimated that as many as 98,000 deaths are caused by medical errors each year. Sadly, little has changed since. In fact, a 2013 estimate from the Journal of Patient Safety estimated that more than 400,000 people die while receiving medical care, many from preventable causes. And in 2008, it was determined that medical errors cost an extra $19.5 billion in national spending each year--often for follow-up treatment and medication.
So who is covering all of these costs? The answer is a bit mixed, with malpractice lawsuits covering some, insurance paying for others, and even actual hospitals and physicians offering free care for their wrongdoing. But largely, it is patients who are left to foot the bill for the mistakes of their physicians and hospitals.
When Wounded Patients Fail to Come Forward
Sometimes, a patient is left with the costs of aftercare of a medical mistake because, for one reason or another, they do not come forward with a personal injury case. In many instances, it is a matter of not realizing that they were, in fact, a victim of medical negligence. They may have been told that they suffered an “unpreventable complication,” or the case could be so complex that it would take a highly skilled medical malpractice attorney to untangle all the details. Regardless of the reason, their lives are often irrevocably changed, and they are left to cover the mounting costs.
Exemplary Hospitals Raising the Bar
Amid cover-ups, refusals to admit fault, denial of insurance claims to pay for mistakes, and the complexity of malpractice cases, there are a few hospitals doing things right—or at least better. These hospitals have rules that require a patient be told if something goes wrong, and why. If the hospital or a provider was responsible, then the patient’s follow-up care is free.
Unfortunately, very few hospitals have such a policy. And most will deny blame all the way through a medical malpractice case. However, there are health agencies—The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Medical Association, Leapfrog, the National Quality Forum, the Joint Commission, and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality—that are pushing for more hospitals to adopt such a policy.
How an Honest Policy Could Improve Patient Safety
Policies that would require providers to admit their fault in a medical mistake have the potential to improve patient safety. Injured individuals would receive free follow-up care, releasing them from the financial worries that many face today. And providers could start to look more seriously at preventing such mistakes from happening in the first place; after all, no one likes admitting they have made a mistake.
Seek Help for Your Medical Malpractice Case
Until real changes are made, patients will continue to be at risk for medical negligence. it has happened to you or someone you love, seek experienced legal counsel for your case. The attorneys at Mevorah Law Offices LLC have extensive knowledge in handling medical malpractice cases. We provide aggressive representation, both in and outside of the courtroom, to ensure the rights of our clients are protected. For your free initial consultation with one of our Will County personal injury attorneys, call 815-726-9200 today.