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Differing approaches to medical errors

Two stories of medical malpractice start with similar circumstances but quickly go their separate ways. In one case, a nursing professor entered a hospital for a routine hysterectomy. Unfortunately, medical errors occurred that left her in a coma for weeks and required her to undergo five additional surgeries.

When the woman had recovered sufficiently to ask her surgeon what had happened, she got little but a terse "things didn't go well” and silence.

In the other case, a retired police officer entered a hospital for disk replacement surgery. Again, medical errors occurred and he was left a quadriplegic. The big difference: his surgeon immediately told him what had gone wrong, the doctor apologized and the hospital covered rehabilitation expenses and compensated him financially for the severe damage.

“When hospitals mess up, they need to do the right thing,” the retired cop said, adding that in case, that is exactly what the hospital did.

So many hospitals today still opt for the "deny and defend" model illustrated by the first example. Some are choosing a different path, however: acknowledging mistakes, apologizing and compensating victims for the errors.

“The whole point of this (approach) isn’t to drop malpractice costs," a health system executive director said, "it’s to drive patient safety.”

Far too often, when doctors and hospitals choose the deny-and-defend model, which requires them to deny that mistakes were made, errors are perpetuated because no steps are taken to prevent the mistakes that everyone is pretending did not happen.

One of the ways medical malpractice victims fight back is to force negligent health care providers to acknowledge errors is with litigation. It is often the only way to get the compensation victims and their families deserve.

You can discuss your case with an experienced West Virginia medical malpractice attorney by contacting the Huntington office of Cyrus, Adkins & Walker, Attorneys at Law.

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