True Dialogue Between Patients and Doctors Would Reduce Harmful, Dangerous Medical Errors

January 23rd, 2019 by Rieders Travis in Medical Malpractice

Patients seeking medical care can wind up being harmed instead from medical errors made by medical professionals and institutions. A May 2016 Johns Hopkins study indicated that 10 percent of all U.S. deaths are due to medical error, which has become the third leading cause of death, behind only heart disease and cancer.   Studies have shown, for example, that the number of preventable deaths in American hospitals are the equivalent of two 747s crashing every month with a loss of all lives aboard.  Would the public ever accept that?  Ten percent (10%) of hospital admissions wind up with patients getting infections.  Preventable deaths in hospitals and caused by doctors are a leading cause of death in the United States.

This is an unacceptable situation, and one that doctors and hospitals are trying to remedy.  Pennsylvania’s Medical Care Availability and Reduction of Error Act of 2002 tasked the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority (PSA) with reducing medical errors by identifying problems and implementing solutions that promote patient safety. PSA data claims that efforts to reduce harm are paying off with a 45 percent decline in “high harm” events from 2005 through 2014.  However, there is much debate about this.  Reporting is a problem.  Cliff Rieders was the architect of Pennsylvania’s Patient Safety Authority, and served on the Board for 15 years.  It is clear that much reporting left a lot to be desired.  Events that should have been characterized as “serious events” were not.  Therefore, it is not known if the so-called decline in “high harm” events is really due to better medicine or simply problematic reporting.  What we do know is the Patient Safety Authority tells us that approximately 330,000 serious events and incidents are reported to the Patient Safety Authority a year and that is with less than optimal reporting.  During that same time, the administrative office of the Pennsylvania Courts indicates that 400 medical malpractice cases were filed.  To reduce medical errors, the medical industry needs to have the carrot and the stick.  Medical liability claims must be easier to file and less expensive to pursue.  The barriers to obtain justice in medical and hospital malpractice must be reduced.

Medical errors happen all too often.  If you or a loved one has suffered harm due to negligent medical errors, you should seek legal representation to determine whether you can be compensated for your loss. However, due to the complexity and issues involving medical malpractice, your case must be handled correctly and competently by an attorney experienced in hospital malpractice. 

The skilled and experienced Pennsylvania hospital medical malpractice attorney Clifford A. Rieders of Rieders, Travis, Humphrey, Waters & Dohrmann has spent decades honing his skills and successfully representing Pennsylvania families who have suffered an injury or loss due to negligence and malpractice by medical professionals and hospitals.  Our attorneys offer personal attention and loyalty to every client, aggressively fighting for their right to compensation.  Cliff Rieders was involved in the writing of the Mcare Act, which governs medical malpractice cases in Pennsylvania.  He wrote the book which the lawyers and the courts routinely utilize.  Cliff teaches the course on medical malpractice to lawyers throughout the state.

We offer a free consultation to examine the facts of your case and determine how we can help, so contact us online or call our offices to set up your free consultation.

Common Medical Errors

There are many ways that medical errors can occur. Among the most common are:

  • Making an incorrect diagnosis, failure to diagnose, or inappropriate treatment for the diagnosis
  • Prescribing wrong medication or dosage
  • Not considering a patient’s medical history
  • Surgical errors, doing unnecessary surgery or operating on the wrong body part
  • Laboratory errors or ignoring laboratory results
  • Lack of informed consent
  • Poor communication.

Ways to Reduce Errors

According to a new study published in the BMJ, a simple idea could go a long way toward curbing dangerous medical errors: looping in patients and families about their care. The study showed that when communication with patients and their families was extended, harmful medical errors fell by 38 percent.

A communications program called I-PASS, started at Boston Children’s Hospital, has proven successful in reducing errors. The program focuses on rounds — daily meetings when physicians, doctors-in-training, and sometimes nurses talk about a hospitalized patient’s condition and the plan for care. In addition, patient and family are asked for any questions or concerns, and health care providers provide updates and clearly explain the treatment plan. Patients and families then confirm what they understood about the care plan. With this program, families were more likely to share concerns and nurses were more engaged in rounds.

Another program shown to reduce errors is a new way of monitoring Electronic Health Records (EHRs) to detect safety risks to hospitalized patients in real time.  An organization, Pascal Metrics, developed a system that can detect patient harm from real-time data, which then fires triggers that result in patient safety monitoring. The system still needs work to deal with the many false positives that occur.

An additional study found that patient feedback can help physicians better understand their mistakes and interpersonal and behavioral factors such as doctors’ ignoring patient knowledge or disrespecting patients, which contributed to errors.

Cliff Rieders, as a member of the Patient Safety Authority, argued strongly for the Authority and the healthcare system in general to become more patient oriented.  Patients, Rieders noted, are consumers.  The medical healthcare system will never improve until and unless patients are given information about problems at hospitals and with doctors so that they can make an informed decision.  We must do away with secret peer review and root cause analysis.  Problems with doctors and hospitals, including errors, need to be available to patients and their families.

Trust Our Firm for Answers

If you or a loved one has suffered harm due to a medical error you may be entitled to compensation for your losses, including medical and rehabilitative costs, lost wages, and loss of life’s pleasures.  However, medical malpractice law is highly regulated by a complex body of rules, and your case must be handled properly, or you may never receive the compensation you are entitled to.

Whether in settlement negotiations or pursuing a favorable trial verdict, the experienced Pennsylvania hospital medical malpractice attorneys of Rieders, Travis, Humphrey, Waters & Dohrmann are thoroughly prepared and committed to achieving a just outcome.  With our experienced staff, we offer strength in numbers while providing top-notch personal service.

Cliff Rieders is a Past President of the Pennsylvania Association for Justice, formerly Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association.  Rieders has won numerous awards and recognition from the Pennsylvania Association for Justice, and he received the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority recognition award.  Cliff Rieders was a founder of the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority and served on same for 15 years.  Rieders was a Law Clerk in the federal court system for one of the most well-known and longest serving federal judges in the country, the Honorable Malcolm Muir.  Cliff has received the George F. Douglas Amicus Curiae Award, as well as the Milton D. Rosenberg Award from the Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers.  Rieders is on committees and organizations that write the law in many fields of practice.  Cliff Rieders was involved in the writing of the Mcare Act, which governs medical liability actions in Pennsylvania.  Cliff Rieders wrote the book on medical malpractice that lawyers use in the state.  Cliff teaches the subject of medical malpractice at seminars attended by the leading lawyers in the state.  Cliff Rieders is recognized as an outstanding authority in the medical malpractice field.  Cliff has even testified before the legislature on medical malpractice laws. Rieders is a Nationally Board-certified specialist for Civil Trial and Civil Practice and Procedure, a cum laude graduate of New York University as well as Georgetown University Law Center.  Rieders is admitted in Pennsylvania, New York State, District of Columbia and numerous federal courts including the Supreme Court of the United States.  Rieders is a life member of the American Law Institute which publishes recommended legal principles utilized throughout the United States.  Cliff Rieders is the lawyer that other lawyers call for counsel and advice in the medical and hospital malpractice and pharmaceutical/vitamin supplement fields.  Cliff Rieders does substantial work in multi-district litigation in connection with pharmaceutical products and medical devices.

Based in Williamsport, we serve clients throughout the state of Pennsylvania, offering a free consultation on all personal injury matters. More than that, we offer you experience, knowledge, compassion, and a long history of results.

Do not delay. Contact us online or call our offices today to set up your free consultation.

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