What does a doctor do when they walk into their Honolulu clinic and see a patient who has suffered medical malpractice at the hands of one of their fellow doctors? If they are like physicians in a recent report from The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) they may clean up the mistake, but often they do not report the medical error.
Even though medical errors and medical malpractice are one of the leading causes of death for Americans, most doctors are very reticent when it comes to reporting medical errors committed by another doctor. One report found that more than half of the doctors surveyed could identify at least one error caused by another doctor within the last year.
Why they do not report the errors they see and sometimes have to correct is complex. Money may be the leading reason. Doctors rely on other doctors for referrals, and poisoning the well by reporting another doctor can have immediate financial consequences for the doctor attempting to do the right thing. Other reasons involve issues as varied as gender and seniority.
This is one reason why medical malpractice cases are important. They remove the veil of silence that often surrounds medical errors. If you feel that you or a family member has suffered an injury due to medical malpractice, you should discuss your facts with a medical malpractice attorney.
They can help you determine if there may be valid grounds for a medical malpractice case. Not only do these cases allow injured parties to obtain compensation, but also they can reveal doctors with histories of medical errors or uncover hospital procedures that need improvement.
Source: Pro Publica, “Why Doctors Stay Mum About Mistakes Their Colleagues Make,” Marshall Allen, November 8, 2013