When an appointment with a doctor does not go as expected, patients often want to know the reason why. Even in the cases of surgeries that cost time in recovery or even a life, families often put an explanation at the top priority for healing. Some hospitals are trying to address that need.
What do hospitals do after a surgical or medical error?
Traditional expectations were once that a hospital would “close ranks” in this situation and withhold information until legal requirements had been fulfilled or even later. A more recent option is a formal pattern for “communication-and-resolution” of errors.
What do these programs provide for patients and their families?
The requirements of communication-and-resolution programs include a full formal explanation of an error and how it may be prevented in the future. This is provided regardless of a court finding of negligence or a lawsuit filed on the subject.
Is compensation provided under communication-and-resolution programs?
Financial restitution is an option under some programs. A program in Illinois estimated that it pays out settlements around the same amounts as jury verdicts would award, while cases are resolved more quickly.
What should I do if I suspect a medical or surgical error?
Communication-and-resolution programs are not yet a norm, as only 15 percent of U.S. health systems have them. Legal representation may be useful to a victim of hospital errors or the family of someone who died unexpectedly under medical care. An attorney can work with hospitals and courts toward justice for families whether a hospital has an official process or not.