PREVENTABLE MEDICAL ERRORS – MEDICAL MALPRACTICE
When Cliff Rieders, starting in 1999, fought for patient safety, it was considered a new and novel concept. The Institute of Medicine had just published its blockbuster report, “To Err Is Human; Building a Better Health Care System.” When attempts were made in 2002 to create insurmountable hurdles to bringing legitimate medical malpractice cases, Cliff Rieders was President of the Trial Lawyers, now called the Pennsylvania Association for Justice. As part of the legislative package signed by Governor Schweiker, Rieders demanded and received that Pennsylvania establish its own patient safety authority. At the time it was learned that the number of preventable deaths in hospitals were the equivalent of two 747’s crashing every month with a loss of all lives aboard. Preventable medical errors in hospitals are anywhere between the third and fifth leading cause of preventable deaths in the United States.
This horrendous situation is the leading cause of the increase in health care costs.
Cliff Rieders was one of the original appointees to the Patient Safety Authority in Pennsylvania, and remains on the Board. With 330,000 incidents of serious events reported each year to the Patient Safety Authority, and only 1,400 lawsuits filed in the same year, it is readily apparent that many preventable patient harms go uncompensated.
Rieders has handled cases against many of the major institutions in the area where there has been serious medical malpractice, including but not limited to Susquehanna Health System, Geisinger Medical Center, Memorial Hospital, Robert Packer Hospital, Guthrie Clinic, and others. Rieders secured a $14.7 million verdict against Guthrie, Packer and individual doctors as a result of a medical malpractice case.
Medical malpractice is a very specialized field of law. Rieders is not only a Board Certified trial lawyer, but in fact wrote the book on Medical Malpractice that every lawyer in the Commonwealth utilizes. Rieders teaches the courses for both the Pennsylvania Association for Justice and the Pennsylvania Bar Institute that lawyers from all over the state attend. Rieders has written some of the major briefs and argued significant cases before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. In addition, Rieders serves as a member of Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court Standard Jury Instruction Committee and participates actively in the writing of jury instructions. No one knows the field of medical malpractice and hospital malpractice better than Cliff Rieders.
If you or a loved one has suffered because of medical complications at a hospital, you need legal representation. The experienced medical malpractice attorneys of Rieders, Travis, Humphrey, Waters & Dohrmann have spent decades honing their skills and successfully representing Pennsylvania families who have suffered an injury or loss due to someone else’s negligence. Our deep sense of loyalty to each client drives us to pursue each claim vigorously.
We offer a free consultation to examine the facts of your situation and show you how we can help.
Hospitals are Held to Standards
Hospitals, through the appropriate administrators, must act reasonably and uphold proper standards of care for their patients:
- First, a hospital must use reasonable care in the maintenance of safe and adequate facilities and equipment.
- Second, a hospital must select and retain only competent physicians.
- Third, a hospital must oversee all persons who practice medicine within its walls as to patient care;
- Finally, a hospital must formulate, adopt and enforce adequate rules and policies to ensure quality care for its patients.
The above are called the Thompson v. Nason Rules. This is for corporate responsibility of a hospital. However, there is also vicarious liability, when a hospital agent, servant or employee acts in a negligent fashion. Hospitals can be responsible for both or either, in addition to the individuals being held responsible.
When Can Patients Sue a Hospital for Negligence?
A hospital is not responsible for every medical complication, injury or death suffered by its patients. Whether a hospital will be liable depends upon whether the hospital acted reasonably and with competence with respect to the medical services provided. When a patient suffers harm from neglect, incompetence or lack of reasonable care, the hospital may be responsible if the negligence was a factual cause in bringing about the harm.
Some examples of hospital negligence include: inadequate triage systems, inadequate supervision of individuals involved with medical care, inadequate policies for obtaining medical clearance and inadequate systems for recordkeeping. Perhaps the greatest cause of hospital negligence is failure of communication and what is called systemic negligence. Sometimes doctors never read nurses’ notes or do not even know what the nurses have seen in the way of patient care. In other situations, hospitals will have on their staff doctors and professionals who they have every reason to know or should know are incompetent or not doing their jobs.
Not everyone working in a hospital is considered an employee.
Not everyone with privileges at a hospital automatically make that hospital negligent. The Mcare Act, which Cliff Rieders participated in the writing of, specifically addresses when a hospital is negligent because an individual appears to be a hospital employee even if that person is not in fact a hospital employee. Under certain circumstances, a hospital can be responsible even for non-employees of the hospital.
Sometimes a hospital will be responsible for supplying unsafe products. This is not always the case, and in fact must be carefully understood. The relationship between doctor, hospital, health care provider, manufacturers of medical products and suppliers of pharmaceuticals is complex. Make sure that you choose somebody who knows the law, understands the field and has a great deal of experience.
Even federal laws can come into play. There are certain facilities that come under the rubric of federal regulation. Knowing when to file in federal court and when to stay in state court is a matter of great moment. Again, an experienced attorney is absolutely necessary.
How Common Is Medical Malpractice at Hospitals?
Healthcare professionals must adhere to the standard of care established in the community. They have a responsibility to know what diagnostic tools, treatment options, and medical decisions are appropriate. Yet medical errors are alarmingly common at hospitals. Some of the most common medical mistakes made at hospitals, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association, include:
- Medication errors (7,000 deaths per year)
- Unnecessary surgeries (12,000 deaths)
- Hospital-acquired infections (80,000 deaths)
- Other hospital errors (20,000 deaths).
Among the other common forms of medical malpractice are: missed or delayed diagnoses that put patients at risk, leaving surgical tools inside patients’ bodies, misreading test results, misusing medical equipment, turning away emergency room patients with serious symptoms, and not performing urgent medical interventions.
When situations like this occur, the patient and family suffer terrible consequences
Trust Our Firm for Honest Answers
Medical malpractice law is highly regulated by a complex body of rules. Whether in settlement negotiations or pursuing a favorable trial verdict, the experienced attorney, Cliff Rieders, of Rieders, Travis, Humphrey, Waters & Dohrmann is familiar with the law and thoroughly prepared and committed to achieving a just outcome. With our staff, we offer strength in numbers while providing top-notch personal service.
If you or your loved one has suffered from hospital malpractice, do not delay. Consult Cliff Rieders at Rieders, Travis, Humphrey, Waters & Dohrmann by calling 800-326-9259 for a free consultation, or use the online contact form at.
Based in Williamsport, we serve clients throughout the state of Pennsylvania, offering a free consultation on all injury matters. More than that, we offer you experience, knowledge, compassion, and a long history of results.