Medical errors cause serious problems for patients. Unfortunately, when a doctor makes a mistake, the error also has an impact on the physician as well. The current culture expects perfection from doctors, creating a "dangerous atmosphere in which doctors would rather hide medical errors than report them and face repercussions."
The warning about the culture of perfection comes from an attending physician at Bellevue Hospital in New York who is also an author and a Professor of Medicine at New York University School of Medicine. According to MedCity, she discussed the problem at TEDMED 2014 and indicated that a frank conversation about emotions related to malpractice, coupled with the creation of a more transparent system, are necessary to reducing the number of medical errors.
A New York medical malpractice lawyer knows doctors are often reluctant to admit mistakes. Furthermore, it can sometimes be challenging to find other physicians who will testify against colleagues in a malpractice case and point out where errors occurred. The reality is that mistakes do happen and doctors are not perfect. When an error is made, efforts should be undertaken to solve the problem as quickly as possible for the patient and to compensate the victim of the medical negligence for costs associated with the economic losses and physical pain that the medical mistake causes.
Changing the Culture Could Improve Patient Care
States have attempted to address the culture of perfection by making laws that allow doctors to express sympathy to patients and their families for adverse medical outcomes without specifically admitting guilt. This is one possible approach to dealing with the issue of providers being afraid to admit when an error has been made. A Cornell University Law Journal article discussed these laws, called "Apology Laws," which have been passed in dozens of states.
When a provider apologizes to a family or admits he has made an error, this admission is often used in a medical malpractice case by families to recover monetary damages. This can lead to doctors being afraid to speak up about an error because they have been cautioned not to by hospital administrators or by medical malpractice insurers. Apology laws prevent expressions of sympathy from being used against doctors. In New York, a bill was proposed to exclude "a statement of apology or regret, made by a health care provider, as an admission of liability." However, the last action taken on the bill was to refer it to the Judiciary Committee in January, so no apology law currently exists in New York.
Other states have also established best practice guidelines for preventing mistakes due to medication errors and preventing injuries in hospitals caused by falls or infections. For example, the creation of a Patient Safety Authority in Pennsylvania provides a central repository that is able to collect information on medical mistakes from participating hospitals within the state.
It is clear that doctors need to be able to admit their mistakes, and the law should make it possible for physicians to do so.
For more information about how a medical malpractice attorney in New York City can help you with your medical malpractice case, contact Jonathan C. Reiter Law Firm, PLLC. Call 212-736-0979 or visit http://www.jcreiterlaw.comand schedule a free consultation today.