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A Hospital’s First Priority: Do No Harm

Most Illinois medical malpractice lawsuits involve “accidents” at a hospital or medical facility that lead to harm to the patient. However, our Chicago medical malpractice lawyers know that the term “accident” is a bit deceiving, because it may give the impression that these events are mere flukes that could not have been prevented. In fact, these suits are centered on the very idea that the error could and should have been prevented. Medical professionals are not punished for things out of their control, but they are held accountable for their own actions and their consequences.

As a new story in the Times Union reiterated, it remains vital that all hospitals remember that their first priority is not to make a patient worse by their improper conduct. The story explained how many consumers continue to be surprised by the sheer amount of medical errors that exist. National estimate suggest that as many as 100,000 Americans are killed each year because of medical errors and an additional 100,000 die because of preventable infections. These are staggering totals.

As one physician explained when asked about the issue, “All indications point to poor communication as being absolutely the number one cause of errors and patient safety issues.” Miscommunication between medical employees or failure to raise concerns remains at the root at the most of these problems. These communication issues are more common than technical or clinical judgment issues. To help, some medical professionals are involved in a new training program modeled after those provided to military pilots and aviation crews in order to determine how these mistakes can be prevented.

Sadly, one common problem is that some medical workers, like nurses and nurse’s assistants, fail to speak up when they suspect that something might be amiss. This issue is related to the relationship that these employees have with the doctors who have the final say in most medical decisions. If the employees do not feel like they can raise certain issues with the professional, then eventually patients are going to suffer. It remains important to eliminate all of these communication issues. The safety of patients should never suffer because of personnel problems.

Besides basic communication issues, it is also necessary for medical facilities to consider all new techniques to prevent some of the most common errors. For example, far too often medical devices, like sponges, are left inside patients following surgery. New technology now exists to prevent the problem. A system exists involving the use of sponges inlayed with microchips. Those sponges can then be tracked, and following the procedure it can be clearly identified if any of those sponges are not accounted for.

The Illinois medical malpractice attorneys at Levin & Perconti continue to work on behalf of individual victims of preventable medical mistakes. Unfortunately, far from being “accidents,” many local medical caregivers continue to act carelessly, leading to deadly harm. All possible efforts to prevent this conduct must be undertaken by all medical providers who care about eliminating medical mistakes. Literally hundreds of thousands of lives can be saved if this harm is curtailed.

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