Use Your Experience to Help Educate Others About Patient Safety

Can anything good come from medical malpractice? It is easy for local residents to be overwhelmed by anger, sadness, frustration, and grief in the aftermath of a medical error that causes significant injury or even death. Obviously everyone would prefer that the mistake never have happened. But each Chicago medical malpractice lawyer at our firm often explains to families that steps can be taken so that the tragedy is not all negative. When a doctor or medical facility is held legally accountable for their errors, then changes are often made (or mandated) which prevent mistakes in the future. Helping to improve the system in this way is just one of several reasons that families should not allow medical errors to be swept under the rug.

Along the same lines, ProPublica recently shared information on another way for community members to participate in discussion and ensure lessons are learned from medical mistakes. ProPublica is a free online journalism watchdog that exists to provide in-depth, helpful, and incisive information to consumers on any number of issues, including things like hospital safety and nursing home mistreatment.

ProPublica has a Facebook page which includes a “Patient Harm Group” where those affected by these problems come together to share their story, spread advocacy messages, and otherwise use synergy to educate and act as a force for good. Summarizing the efforts, a ProPublica article recently explained that “the [Facebook] group – among our efforts to use social media in the service of journalism – has grown into a robust forum for discussion and learning for participants and reporters alike.”

The organizers explain that the underlying purpose is to provide a comprehensive forum to address the continuing problem of substandard medical care that harms up to a million Americans each and every year. Beyond a space for patients and their families, the group is also trying to attract doctors, nurses, and others in the medical community so that a complete dialogue can be had between all those involved.

Promoted on the Facebook group is a “Patient Harm Questionnaire” which ProPublica uses to explain more in-depth stories to tie into the overall patient safety problem. Thus far several hundreds people have completed the survey. However, the organization is hoping to expand that number, and so everyone is encouraged to head over to the site and share your story.

Even though only a modest number of people have completed the survey, the results already provide some interesting information which place the problem of medical malpractice in context. For example, in only one in ten cases did the medical provider voluntarily explain the medical error. Instead, 90% of the time the medical facility was prepared to completely cover up the problem if the patient did not press and demand accountability. The same number of hospitals (1 in 10) offered any sort of apology at all, with most facilities simply ignoring the situation, allowing the patient and their family to face the consequences without so much as a simple “I’m Sorry.”

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