Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.

Lack of transparency leads to more medical mistakes

A Pennsylvania hospital now provides doctors' notes online for their patients. The idea behind providing such notes is for patients to better understand the manner in which their doctors are treating them.

It has been suggested by a surgeon that the reason why surgical errors and doctor mistakes are occurring so often is because there is so little openness into the medical community, and there is no opportunity for doctors to learn from other doctors' mistakes.

Medical mistakes are more often the cause of deaths than other publicized incidents such as plane crashes. It is perhaps because there is so little publicity that the same medical mistakes occur again and again. And since there is so little emphasis on reporting medical errors, doctors and surgeons seldom report on each other.

Medical errors kill more patients each year than almost all diseases. These errors also can be extremely expensive both for the patient and for society. It has also been suggested that a quarter of medical prescriptions, tests and surgical procedures serve no medical purpose.

The surgeon mentioned above had a number of suggestions for decreasing the rates of medical malpractice including:

  • Informational dashboards - an online site that publicly reports the hospital's safety record
  • Safety culture scores - a score indicating specific mistakes made by a medical facility
  • Cameras - videotapes documenting procedures
  • Open notes - doctors' notes online
  • Elimination of patients signing forms promising not to reveal treatment or medical mistakes

Obviously, this surgeon was not concerned about the large number of medical malpractice cases. If anything, he likely believes that there would be more such lawsuits if medical information was readily available for patients and attorneys to review.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, "How to Stop Hospitals From Killing Us," by Marty Makary, Sep. 21, 2012

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