Are Hospitals Silent When Patients Are Harmed by Medical Mistakes?
Medical mistakes have become the third leading cause of death in the US, but hospitals remain opaque on offering details when these errors happen. Hospitals may be silent on medical mistakes when patients or grieving family members have questions. This might be the case because hospitals may want to avoid liability when patients are killed or harmed by medical mistakes.
Patients hurt by medical mistakes are sometimes not informed, and as a result, continue to suffer from preventable conditions. An ABC News article from last year described how a man was allowed to swallow a surgical sponge during a procedure, but was discharged from the hospital and never informed of the sponge. According to the man’s wife, her husband became very sick days later.
Circumstances led the man and his wife to seek help from another doctor. After seeking a second opinion from another facility, a surgical sponge was found in his stomach. It turns out the first hospital did not tell this man that he had swallowed a surgical sponge. The first hospital did not want to admit its mistake, and this man suffered as a result. Unfortunately, similar stories are commonplace across the country.
Hospitals have a duty to provide details to patients affected by medical mistakes. The same could be said for grieving family members. It is unfair for hospitals to remain opaque when patients have questions about the quality of their care or when family members want answers.
Hospital Patients Have a Right to Their Medical Records
Hospital patients have a right to access their medical records. In addition, patients can authorize family members or loved ones to access their records by signing HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) release forms.
If hospitals fail to disclose information and patients or family member suspect medical mistakes have been made, they may have legal options. Before filing medical malpractice lawsuits, attorneys will attempt to secure available medical records to discover exactly what happened.