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How do Hospitals Cover Up Medical Malpractice?

Providing life-saving medical services to patients is considered a noble profession. Whether a doctor, a nurse, hospital support, a dentist and a hospital, putting the patient first should be considered a calling.

If there is a breach of any kind, it may be considered medical malpractice. In 1999, the prestigious Institute of Medicine reported in To Err is Human that there are as many as 44,000 to 98,000 patient deaths a year from avoidable medical errors and most of them occur in hospitals.  

The BMJ, a British medical journal concluded in 2016 that medical errors were the third-leading cause of death in the U.S. behind heart disease and cancer. And though Americans spent more per capita on medical care than any other industrialized nation, we come in 37th in health outcomes among industrialized countries.

Some have argued that the medical malpractice is one of the reasons medicine is so expensive. Doctors practice defensive medicine such as ordering unnecessary tests, curtailing complicated procedures or rejecting patients they perceived as litigious.

Estimates are that the costs associated with medical malpractice add only 2% to 10% to the cost of medicine.

What is Medical Malpractice?

Medical malpractice can result from the actions of the doctor, the nurse, the therapist, even the hospital can be liable for the actions of its employees or its independent contractors, if that is how they are hired.

Connecticut hospitals had a record number of hospital errors in 2013, reports the state Department of Public Health, and they occurred at some of the state’s largest hospitals.

There are certain standards that hospitals must adhere to such as the Joint Commission of Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, and a violation of those standards may add to the claim of medical malpractice.

Medical malpractice can result from several actions:

*Failure to Treat – This may include a misdiagnosis or a delay in treatment. Perhaps the patient was not given much-needed medication when it was needed or the doctor did not follow-up with care or neglected to refer the patient to a specialist.

* Negligence – Is an omission in care, in follow-up treatment, or in a timely attendance to a patient. Negligence can also result when a doctor is not fully trained on a piece of medical equipment, surgical technique, or an area of medicine that he is practicing.

*No Informed Consent – The doctor has a duty to fully inform the patient on what the treatment will entail and especially the potential for dangers. The patient then can make an informed decision about a treatment option or surgical operation.

*Surgical Error – These are the nightmare stories one hears about. A wrong limb is amputated, organs are injured during surgery, or someone leaves instruments inside a patient necessitating another surgery.

It has been reported that some doctors cover their tracks by altering medical records. Patients have reported that their records have gone missing, presuming they’ve been destroyed.

Patients who have experienced “adverse events” often speak out publicly that they had not been informed by their doctor about the worst-case scenario. If the worst case happens, the doctor may decide he no longer wants to treat that patient. 

It’s always better for a doctor to admit a mistake and apologize than cut and run, but that rarely happens.

In some cases, a doctor was not informed about the worst outcomes. If he has been trained by a sales rep for a pharmaceutical company, that sales pitch may not include the worst examples of adverse events. And often doctors are anxious only to hear the upside so they can offer a product or a drug, especially if it is potentially lucrative to their practice.

Public Citizen reported in 2002 that in Florida, many medical errors were committed by the same small percentage of doctors, placing a burden on hospitals to more closely monitor the activities of troublesome doctors.

Connecticut Law on Medical Malpractice

The injured has a two-year statute of limitations to bring a medical malpractice lawsuit, or two years from when the victim should have reasonably discovered the injury.

Connecticut has no cap on damages that a victim of medical malpractice can receive. However, the state does have a modified comparative negligence rule meaning if you share in a proportion of blame for the incident your award or settlement will be reduced by a similar amount.

Apex Law can help you with your medical malpractice claim by pursuing economic, noneconomic and in some cases, punitive damages to help ensure that those who are medically negligent are held fully accountable. Contact our office for a free consultation to discuss your case.