All Illinois medical malpractice lawyers understand the way that medical mistake lawsuits combine with public regulatory oversight to help protect victims of improper medical care and ensure safety changes are made at negligent facilities. The interplay between these roles provides an important counterweight to the often strong inclination of many facilities and practitioners to cover-up problems in order to keep up appearances. Most medical professionals work hard every day to provide appropriate care. However, when mistakes are made, it is vital that victims be protected and accountability be had so that the root cause of the problem is eliminated.
State and federal regulations of those facilities are a helpful start to provide that accountability. For example, the Bay Citizen reported this week on fines that have been meted out against at least four hospitals for serious medical errors. The state’s department of public health issued the fines, which totaled $650,000, for problems that were found which placed patient lives at risk.
The specific errors included a wide range of problems which should always be prevented. In one case, a physician implanted the wrong lens on the eyes of patient undergoing cataract surgery. The patient was required to go in a second time for a correction. In another case, a doctor ordered staff members to use a cardiac monitor to care for a patient suffering from an abnormal heart rhythm. However, those staff members did not do so until 40 minutes after the order was given. As a result, the patient went into cardiac arrest had there was a delay in his resuscitation. That delay led to irreversible brain damage cause by lack of oxygen, and the man died two days later.
Another hospital was fined after leaving a sponge inside a patient following a surgery in 2010. It was later learned that the nurse involved failed to follow appropriate policy to keep track of surgical objects during these procedures. In yet another case, local regulators found that a hospital failed to test patient tolerance to opiates before prescribing fentanyl patches. These patches are powerful painkillers that can be extremely harmful to some patients. As a result of the facility’s failure to ensure that the drugs were safe to give to those receiving it, two of the patients died while receiving the medication.
Each of the above incidents occurred within the last two years. All of the fines also came with the requirement that the involved facilities submit a plan of correction to ensure that similar problems are prevented in the future. The local health department then conducted a follow up inspection to ensure the safety for future patients.
Our Illinois medical malpractice attorneys at Levin & Perconti urge continued vigilance on the part of all state and federal regulators. Understanding the cause of medical errors, catching the repeat offenders, and making safety changes that will ultimately save lives begins with this close accountability. For our part, we are proud to work on behalf of the victims of these accidents and their families to ensure that they do not get left behind.
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