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Hospitals and Patient Safety
Nearly 200,000 people die from medical errors occurring in hospitals every year. When errors are discovered, the “blame game” begins, and it can be very difficult to determine who is truly responsible. Often, these errors are the result of a combination of factors which are controlled by the hospital itself. Until hospital boards start treating patient safety with the same, or higher, priority as hospital finances, these errors and the deaths and injuries will continue to spiral out of control.
Obviously doctors are responsible for their patients’ safety, but individual doctors cannot control hospital conditions. At some point the line is drawn between physician responsibility and responsibility of the hospital itself. Hospitals are responsible for many things which are out of individual doctors’ control including:
- Availability of staff
- Adequate and safe facilities
- Adequate equipment
- Competency and training of staff
- Admitting procedures
- Records control
- Sterilization and sanitation practices
- Administration of medications
- Patient monitoring
- Adequate emergency personnel
- Adequate overall care policies
Hospitalized patients have certain basic rights. Although the “right to basic safety” is implied, and is obviously presumed by patients to exist, it has yet to be expressly stated as such. Specific patient rights include:
- Informed consent
- Right to refuse treatment
- Privacy and confidentiality
- Emergency treatment
- To be treated with dignity
In an effort to improve patient safety in hospitals, The Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) has launch the 5 Million Lives Campaign challenging American hospitals to adopt the following 12 interventions:
- Deploy Rapid Response Teams at the first sign of patient decline
- Deliver Reliable, Evidence-Based Care for Acute Myocardial Infarction to prevent deaths from heart attack
- Prevent Adverse Drug Events (ADEs) by implementing medication reconciliation
- Prevent Central Line Infections by implementing a series of interdependent, scientifically grounded steps
- Prevent Surgical Site Infections by reliably delivering the correct perioperative antibiotics at the proper time
- Prevent Ventilator-Associated Pneumonia by implementing a series of interdependent, scientifically grounded steps
- Prevent Harm from High-Alert Medications starting with a focus on anticoagulants, sedatives, narcotics, and insulin
- Reduce Surgical Complications by reliably implementing all of the changes in care recommended by SCIP, the Surgical Care Improvement Project
- Prevent Pressure Ulcers by reliably using science-based guidelines for their prevention
- Reduce Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) infection by reliably implementing scientifically proven infection control practices
- Deliver Reliable, Evidence-Based Care for Congestive Heart Failure to avoid readmissions
- Get Boards on Board by defining and spreading the best-known leveraged processes for hospital Boards of Directors, so that they can become far more effective in accelerating organizational progress toward safe care
As more and more hospitals adopt these interventions they become established as the standard of care and hospitals which refuse to abide by them may be held liable for negligence.
At this time the only means of enforcing patient safety standards is through malpractice lawsuits brought by patients against hospitals. In order to effectively pursue these cases patients and their attorneys must be able to differentiate between physician and hospital responsibilities. Even in cases that involve individual physician malpractice may be the responsibility of the hospital which has hired the physician.
Determining who committed and who is responsible for error can be a very complicated process and requires the expertise of an attorney or law firm with extensive hospital malpractice experience. In Orlando, Florida the law firm with that experience is Colling, Gilbert, Wright & Carter. They have successfully represented numerous victims of hospital and medical malpractice and have the experience and resources to handle even the most complex cases.
If you or a loved one has been injured or killed by malpractice in a hospital setting, please email or call Colling, Gilbert, Wright & Carter to speak with an experienced medical malpractice attorney today.