Law Office of Robert A. Miller
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Government unveils new system for reporting hospital negligence

Oregon patients expect the best treatment from medical providers at all levels. From doctors to nurses to pharmacists - we expect all hospital staff members to competently fulfill their jobs and give us the best possible care. Unfortunately, accidents and negligence at the hands of a medical team may result in injury or death to the patient. Hospital negligence may give rise to a claim for medical malpractice, giving the injured patient an opportunity to recover damages and medical expenses.

Many errors in medical treatment go unreported. The Obama administration is hoping to combat this problem by creating a new system for patients to report mistakes. Hospital groups seem to be receptive to the new system, despite the potential increase in malpractice liability. Patients are being urged to contact a new consumer reporting system for patient safety. Federal officials say that patients have useful information that could explain mistakes that cause injuries, infections and death.

Hospitals and doctors have reportedly said the new system has merit. The director of the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality stated that there is currently no system in place for consumers to report information about medical errors. It is believed that patient reports will give providers a more complete understanding of mistakes such as drug mix-ups, surgery on the wrong body part and radiation overdoses.

There is some research which suggests 25 percent of hospital patients experience "adverse events" in their treatment. In the new system, patients and their family members would be able to report medical errors through a website and telephone interviews.

If the system is cleared by the White House, healthcare could improve for everyone. Questionnaires and information on how to report medical errors will be made available at hospitals, doctors' offices and pharmacies. In the interim, those injured by hospital negligence - such as a missed or faulty diagnosis or a surgical error -- may be entitled to damages and medical expenses for their losses.

Source: New York Times, "New System for Patients to Report Medical Mistakes," Robert Pear, Sept. 22, 2012

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