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Achieving Transparency and Accountability to Avoid Medical Mistakes

Few people know it, because it’s not very well publicized, but far more people die as a result of preventable and fatal mistakes in the medical field than in the aviation industry. In fact, statistics will show that medical mistakes kill enough people each week to fill four jumbo jets. If the mistakes causing these deaths and injuries were better publicized, they could perhaps be used to teach and learn, and to ultimately prevent a repeat of that mistake.

These medical mistakes, from which nearly 25% of all hospitalized patients will be harmed, are not just dangerous; they’re costly. The U.S. health care system pays tens of billions of dollars each year as a result. Even the mistakes that are seemingly harmless, such as unnecessary tests and procedures, add up. More and more people in the field are taking notice and some have begun to promote increased transparency about safety records and more accountability for resulting deaths and injuries, in an attempt to address the problem. Accountability is a difficult goal to achieve in a field where complications can arise even with the best of care. And very few hospitals publish statistics on their performance, making it difficult for patients to make an informed decision when choosing hospitals. Proponents of change suggest each hospital create an internet information source which would include rates for infection, readmission, surgical complications, annual volume for each type of surgery, and patient satisfaction scores—all so that the prospective patient can make better assess the hospitals’ ability to treat their condition. In doing so, participating hospitals would also have an incentive to improve certain ratings (i.e., death rates).

Also suggested is the use of cameras in a hospital, on the theory that people will be on better behavior (and held accountable) if they know their actions are captured on camera. A Long Island New York hospital began using cameras several yeas ago and has experienced a huge improvement in hand washing compliance—from an abysmal 10% to 90%. Such recordings could also be used for peer review or as a teaching tool. In an effort at transparency, a hospital in Pennsylvania has given its patients access to their own doctors’ notes. Though improvements are slowly being made by individual hospitals, many think the government should play a role in its reform. With more transparency, and the resulting accountability, the medical field can address the cost crisis, deliver safer care, and improve how well they are serving the surrounding community.

If you have been injured due to the negligence of a doctor, nurse, hospital, or other health care provider, contact Mike Agruss Law, for a free consultation. We are a Chicago law firm representing individuals and families who have suffered an injury or loss due to an accident. Mike Agruss Law, will handle your personal injury case quickly, will advise you every step of the way, and will not hesitate to go to trial for you. Lastly, Mike Agruss Law, does not get paid attorney’s fees unless we win your case. Our no-fee promise is that simple. Therefore, you have nothing to risk when you hire us–just the opportunity to seek justice.

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