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Mark Bello
Mark Bello
Attorney • (877) 377-7848

Patient Safety, Reporting Protocol, Must be the Standard for Eliminating Preventable Medical Errors

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Physicians—by nature—strive for perfection when caring for their patients. Much more often than not, they are successful; on occasion, adverse events occur. Back in 1999, the Institute of Medicine published “To Err is Human: Building a Safer Health System.” The report highlighted an estimated 98,000 unnecessary deaths each year due to avoidable medical errors. This began a patient safety movement that is still a long way from where it should be. It has not helped that the US Chamber of Commerce and the insurance industry have led a "blame the lawyers, blame the victims" crusade, known to some, as ‘tort reform’. We are all less safe when tort reform measures are successful.

Although considerable attention has been given lately to methods of eliminating medical errors and enhancing patient safety, too many avoidable errors are still happening. According to a survey conducted by the medical journal Pediatrics, more than 50% of physicians admitted making a diagnostic error at least once or twice per month. The most common errors were the failure to completely evaluate a patient’s medical history, failure to conduct a physical exam and/or perform the necessary tests, and failure to record a complete of treatment. The survey also identified a lack of patient care coordination and teamwork as a cause of medical system failure.

When it comes to preventing medication errors, hospitals everywhere face a major dilemma. Everyone agrees that reporting problems is the first step to preventing others from happening, but few put that belief into practice and submit error reports when something goes wrong. A process as simple as standardized checklists for common procedures can be enough to minimize the risk of bad judgment. Airline pilots and race car drivers observe this protocol, why don’t doctors? The health care industry needs to treat every patient as an individual, providing individualized attention. Each case is unique to the others, not just a number.

As patients, we put our trust and lives in the hands of medical professionals, under the assumption that they will act carefully and responsibly. Unfortunately, when medical professionals perform their jobs negligently, patients are injured and even die. Still, not every case with a poor outcome is necessarily due to a medical error or medical malpractice. Medicine is not an exact science, and even with the best quality of care, sometimes, treatments are unsuccessful. But, this does not negate the fact that the medical profession is still lacking in providing proper check and balance, reporting, protocol.

With so much focus on patient safety and quality care over the last several years, why do we still hear about serious complications or even deaths that could have been prevented? Why the need for the US Chamber and its phony ‘lawsuit abuse’ campaign. Stop blaming victims and trial lawyers. Start telling the truth and being more careful. I read an interesting article in the Washington Post that I believe is well worth the read. To sum it up, hospitals need to take a huge leap towards patient safety. This includes every individual in the healthcare community. It is the culture that is a must, not just implementing procedures and strategies.

Mark Bello has thirty-three years experience as a trial lawyer and twelve years as an underwriter and situational analyst in the lawsuit funding industry. He is the owner and founder of Lawsuit Financial Corporation which helps provide legal finance cash flow solutions and consulting when necessities of life litigation funding is needed by plaintiffs involved in pending, personal injury litigation. Bello is a Justice Pac member of the American Association for Justice, Sustaining and Justice Pac member of the Michigan Association for Justice, Business Associate of the Florida, Tennessee, and Colorado Associations for Justice, a member of the American Bar Association as well as their ABA Advisory Committee, the State Bar of Michigan and the Injury Board.