Doctors, nurses and other hospital workers must adhere to a high level of care when performing their duties, as the performance of their work can often be the difference between life and death. When a doctor or nurse fails to meet this standard of care, and a patient dies as a result, surviving family members may be able to bring a medical malpractice claim.
Each year, doctors across the United States, including in the Pittsburgh area, make mistakes due to medical negligence, such as operating on the wrong body part or prescribing unnecessary medications, tests and procedures. According to the Institute of Medicine, 98,000 deaths per year in the United States are due to medical errors.
One factor that contributes to doctor and hospital negligence is the failure of other physicians to report those who make mistakes. In addition, a lack of transparency prevents patients from determining which doctors have provided subpar medical care. Instead of choosing medical care based on the success rate of doctors, many patients do not have access to such potentially life-saving information. Data regarding infection rates or success rates for a particular doctor or hospital could influence a patient's decision regarding where to receive care.
In order to reduce the instances of physician and hospital negligence, some doctors have suggested using evidence-based evaluations, such as videotaping procedures so that performance can be reviewed more easily. In addition, some have suggested posting success and infection rate statistics on hospital websites so patients have access to the information, as well as giving patients access to doctors' notes.
Source: The Wall Street Journal, "How to Stop Hospitals From Killing Us," Marty Makary, September 21, 2012.
For more information, please visit our Pittsburgh medical malpractice page.