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A new study by a University of California law professor shows that lawsuits actually play a role in improving patient safety, contrary to arguments often heard in political circles that lawsuits increase costs of health care and cause unnecessary testing. The professor, in conjunction with the American Society of Health Care Risk Managers in many cases, surveyed over 400 hospital risk management and claims management employees at health care centers around the U.S.A. The study reveals that hospitals now take a more open approach to medical mistakes, including encouraging apologies, and hospitals are more willing to discuss errors with hospital staff and learn from them. In years past, hospitals were secretive about medical errors and lawsuits. Why the change?
The study shows malpractice suits play a role in identifying the cause of medical errors and the information discovered as a result of lawsuits yield valuable information that hospitals use in improving patient safety. More than 95% of the hospitals in the study were found to integrate information discovered from lawsuits into efforts at improving patient safety. Overwhelmingly, hospital risk management and quality assurance professionals reported that information from lawsuits helped them identify the causes of medical mistakes and improve patient safety.
What is the takeaway from this study? Politicians, lobbyists, special interests and legislators have spent the better part of the last 30 years enacting laws that impede the rights of medical malpractice victims and limit medical malpractice lawsuits. By limiting the lawsuits that actually help risk management professionals identify the cause of medical error, these laws actually impede efforts of quality assurance professionals at improving patient safety!
At CGWC we already knew this from years of experience in handling lawsuits of all kinds. After all, the function and public policy behind the American system of civil justice has always been to improve and promote public safety. Have you been injured? If so, call us for a free consultation about your legal rights whether you were injured on the job, in an automobile, truck or motorcycle accident, or the victim of a medical mistake.