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Study Shows Respect for Patients is Key to Medical Error Prevention

When patients receiving care at a hospital in New York City, Brooklyn or the Bronx are treated like people  by the medical staff, rather than being treated as simply just another patient, this can have a profound impact on the quality of care received. A recent study from Consumer Reports revealed a "striking link between respectful treatment and patient safety." samaritan-1178513-m

A medical malpractice attorney in New York knows that mistakes are frequently made in hospitals ranging from operating on the wrong patient to giving someone the wrong dose of medication. When doctors treat patients with respect, involve them in decisions about their care, and take the time to talk to them, far few errors occur.

Consumer Reports Shows the Importance of Respect for Avoiding Medical Mistakes

Consumer reports conducted a survey of 1,200 people who had recently received treatment in a hospital. Of these patients, the individuals who indicated they had "rarely received respect from the medical staff," were 2.5 times as likely to have experienced a medical error as those who had been treated better.  A total of 29 percent of all of the patients who were surveyed said that they had experienced a medical error. These errors included things like adverse drug reactions, mistakes in the prescribing of medication, hospital-acquired infections like MRSA, or an incorrect diagnosis.

Some of the different behaviors Consumer Reports described as constituting respect included:

  • Physicians minimizing the use of medical language when talking to patients instead using terms they could more readily understand.
  • Physicians taking the time to explain medical jargon that was used in conversation with patients.
  • Doctors and other staff members introducing themselves when first coming into a room, rather than immediately beginning to do something to the patient.
  • Medical professionals involving patients in making decisions about their own care.
  • A willingness to answer patient questions, address patient concerns, and honor the wishes of patients when practical and possible to do so.
  • Doctors and other members of the care team acknowledging as soon as possible if mistakes do occur.

While these may seem like obvious things for care providers to do, far too often patients don't get this level of respect. In fact, a third of patients surveyed said that their doctor or nurse frequently interrupted them when they were talking. A total of 34 percent of respondents said their wishes about the treatment they'd receive were not always honored, and 21 percent of patients thought they were sometimes treated unfairly or in a discriminatory way.

Patients are often afraid to speak up when they are not being treated courteously by staff members. A total of 13 percent indicated they were afraid they would be labeled as a pest or as a "difficult" patient.  It is dangerous for patients to feel they won't be heard. Around 1,100 preventable drug mistakes occur every day in hospitals in the U.S. and another 2,000 people get a hospital-acquired infection. Patients can be their own best advocates to prevent these things, but hospitals and doctors need to do their part and treat their patients with respect.

For more information about how a medical malpractice attorney in New York can help you with your medical malpractice case, contact Jonathan C. Reiter Law Firm, PLLC. Call 212-736-0979 or visit and schedule a free consultation today.

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