It is one of the things we all most fear – and over which we have the least control – when entering the hospital: preventable errors. Recently, Portland’s main newspaper has been reporting on an equally disturbing problem related to preventable errors and Oregon medical malpractice: the fact that because some of the reporting hospitals do regarding their mistakes seems to be coming up short. As a result, there is not as much data available to doctors and medical administrators as there should be. That, in turn, may mean that some hospital errors are going unaddressed because word of them is not making its way through the state health system.
The issue was brought to light by a recent article in The Oregonian. The paper noted that “at least 34 patients died as a result of preventable mistakes in Oregon hospitals last year.” The real issue, however, is that fully one-third of Oregon’s hospitals “chose not to report a single error in 2010.” As the paper notes, “this strains credulity.”
Hospital reporting is an issue I’ve addressed before – and one that should command a lot more public attention than it does. It is, of course, natural that few people like to acknowledge error, but when reporting data could lead to better procedures and, eventually, a drop in Oregon hospital deaths we have entered a realm where pride has no place.
As the head of Oregon’s Patient Safety Commission told The Oregonian: “The truth is, the culture of patient safety is not where it needs to be.” That is a sad analysis to hear from a government official charged with ensuring that professionals do something that, frankly, they should not need to be told to do.
That is why, regrettably, our legal system also has a role in medical practice. A Portland medical malpractice lawyer can help families coping with the tragedy of a preventable Oregon medical error. Justice, in such situations, can be hard to fight for. So it is important to know that you have experienced, compassionate legal help when you need it most.
The Oregonian: Avoiding errors by reporting them
Oregon Patient Safety Commission