The Philadelphia medical malpractice lawyers at Galfand Berger recently reviewed an article in The Wall Street Journal written by Dr. Marty Makary, a cancer surgeon at John Hopkins Hospital. In his article, Dr. Makary discussed the prevalence of medical errors in the health care system in this country and made recommendations for improvement. As a health safety advocate, Dr. Makary has supported the notion of hospitals having more transparency about their safety records, making healthcare providers more accountable for medical errors, and improving the quality of patient care.
Medical errors in the United States claim the lives of an estimated 100,000 patients each year, with another 9 million patients suffering harm. Patients become victims of serious and catastrophic injuries that can be permanent and disabling. Many of these medical errors stem from failure to diagnose, medication errors, birth injuries and surgical errors. As Dr. Makary pointed out in his article, the public is not aware of or overlooks many of these mistakes and physicians seldom learn from these tragedies. Dr. Makary continues to push for greater accountability among hospital staff, with a greater involvement from health care consumers, to improve the overall quality of patient care and safety.
Dr. Makary outlined 5 crucial recommendations that would help reform health care and increase a hospital’s transparency.
1. Online Dashboards
Dr. Makary encourages hospitals to have public “dashboards” that would include information on surgical complications, infection rates, errors that should never occur and readmission rates. In addition, it is recommended for hospitals to also include a list of surgeries they perform and how many of each they perform in a year with patient satisfaction data included. The benefit of having this information available to the public is twofold. First, knowing that patients are reviewing this data may be an incentive for doctors to improve their performance. Secondly, patients having access to the information will enable them to make more informed choices when it comes to choosing a hospital or physician for medical care.
Installing cameras is recommended so that safety procedures can be monitored with the hope of improving compliance rates, such as in the case of hand washing. Taping procedures or surgeries could help in several ways. Reviewing these videos could be utilized as part of a peer group quality improvement initiative helping physicians understand what may have gone wrong during a procedure, giving them the information they need to improve or correct past mistakes. In addition, the videos could serve as part of a patient’s medical record.
3. Safety Culture Scores
Dr. Makary recommends that hospitals be given scores based on their degree of teamwork among their employers such as the doctors and nurses. He noted that hospital staff who exhibit cohesive teamwork show evidence of safer patient care with lower rates of infection and better patient outcomes. The author also believes that members of the hospital staff need to feel empowered and confident enough to speak up when they see actions or inaction that may result in injury to a patient.
4. Open Notes
Having physicians take notes and allowing patients to review them and correct any mistakes or misunderstandings in the notes would help establish transparency. Patients will better understand a physician’s decision-making processes and in turn can make better informed decisions with regard to their own care.
5. Doing Away with Gag Orders
Often times, when an individual is taken on by a doctor as a patient, he or she is required to sign a “gag order” – a promise to never say anything derogatory about the physician. In the event that patient becomes the victim of medical malpractice, a lawyer representing the hospital or doctor will make it a condition in a settlement that the injured patient can’t talk about your injuries. Dr. Makary suggests that a law should prohibit gag orders.
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As advocates for victims of personal injury, Galfand Berger medical malpractice lawyers have seen firsthand the devastation that a medical mistake can have on a patient and their family. If you or someone you love has suffered an injury due to the negligence of a healthcare provider, we encourage you to consult with one of our experienced medical malpractice lawyers who will protect your rights and fight to secure for you the maximum compensation for your injuries. Our offices are conveniently located in Philadelphia, Reading, and Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Call Galfand Berger today at 1-800-222-8792 to schedule a free and confidential consultation with a Pennsylvania medical malpractice lawyer or contact us online.