A study found in the Journal of Patient Safety estimates that 400,000 people die each year in hospitals due to preventable medical mistakes. Researchers further estimate that errors that cause serious harm without death may even be 20 times higher than fatal errors. Despite the prevalence of these mistakes many doctors are not forthcoming in providing information about their errors to their patients, even when it may be detrimental to their health, such as occurs in cases of misdiagnosis.
Ethics vs pride and fear
When a doctor makes a mistake in Illinois, they are not legally required to tell a patient. However, the American Medical Association’s Code of Patient Safety states that every doctor is ethically required to admit their mistakes to their patients when it affects their health and safety. Even though it may be dangerous for the patient when doctors fail to notify patients, fear of legal action and embarrassment often create a tight-lipped wall that patients can have a great deal of difficulty getting through.
Once patients start asking questions, doctors will often stop returning their calls and provide inadequate information regarding the details of their mistakes and how they may affect a patient in the future. In many cases, those doctors who feel ethically obligated to disclose the mistake will still not give all the information available in an effort to save face and minimize liability. Patient care is ultimately often pushed to the side simply due to doctors’ pride.
I’m sorry laws
In an effort to increase transparency and goodwill between medical staff and patients, the state of Illinois passed “I’m Sorry” laws in 2005. These laws protect doctors who sincerely show remorse for the situation or apologize from having their apologies and other statements that could be construed as admissions of guilt used against them in court. Unfortunately, many doctors do not feel adequately protected enough under these laws and still refrain from properly communicating with their patients following a medical mistake.
If a doctor makes a mistake in a hospital, the hospital is legally required to disclose the medical error. However, medical professionals must adhere to the individual hospital’s disclosure program. The protocol required by many hospitals may make it difficult for many doctors to fully communicate with a patient while still abiding by its rules and regulations.
Those who have been injured by a prescription mistake or other medical errors should contact a Chicago medical malpractice attorney immediately. These matters are extremely complicated and require the proper combination of knowledge and experience in order for patients to seek and receive the greatest compensation for their injuries.