As a former hospital administrator, I know that one of the best information tools available to hospital leaders interested in improving patient care and safety is to study past events of poor care.
Accreditation standards require all hospitals to do this. Under certain circumstances, hospitals are required to perform a root cause analysis and document a plan on how to prevent the same error from occurring in the future.
Unfortunately, the powerful hospital lobbyists convinced Texas legislators to grant broad privileges to hospitals to keep this information secret from the public, including attorneys, parties to litigation, and courts.
With this information vacuum, I believe that one of the next best sources available—if you know where to look—is closed claim reporting by medical malpractice insurance carriers.
There’s no doubt that insurance companies would like to see the physicians and hospitals that they insure do a better job of keeping patients safe. Better safety means better outcomes and fewer claims to be paid.
Recently, a large medical malpractice insurer published the results of its study of five years of closed medical malpractice cases and claims spanning 2014 to 2018.
Interestingly, one-fourth of the closed claims involved surgeries. The following were the most common surgery types or specialties that led to allegations of medical malpractice:
• General surgery: 22% of all surgical claims
• Orthopedic surgery: 17% of all surgical claims
• Neurosurgery: 8% of all surgical claims
Nearly one-third of all of the closed claims involved permanent significant injuries, with 9% resulting in the death of a patient.
The most common allegations of medical malpractice that the study identified include:
• Incompetence or poor technical skills of the surgeon: 39%
• Poor clinical judgment or communication: 27%
• Leaving a foreign body/retained surgical item in the patient’s body after surgery: 7%
• Taking a patient to the operating room for an unnecessary surgery: 4%
• Performing surgery on the wrong side, site, or patient: 3%
• Unreasonable delay in taking a patient to surgery: 3%
At Painter Law Firm, we’ve handled cases in every one of these areas and understand the different challenges and requirements of proving a plaintiff’s case for each different circumstance.
If you’ve been seriously injured because of poor surgical care, then contact a top-rated experienced Houston, Texas medical malpractice lawyer for help in evaluating your potential case.