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Many medical professionals fail to report errors

Whether you live in Maryland or elsewhere, medical errors are something to be concerned about. In a recently released report issued by the U.S. Office of Inspector General, it was shown that hospital staff only report one in seven events that cause harm to patients. This included reporting by doctors, nurses, nursing aids and support staff.

The study looked at 189 hospitals nationwide and found that the vast majority of the events resulting in the need for additional care were not logged in hospital databases. Events included everything from providing the wrong medication to misdiagnosis and surgical errors.

The report also looked at over 300 types of harmful events that affected patients. Some of the events were the result of a doctor's errors or hospital negligence, but other events occurred after care was delivered appropriately, and were therefore, not preventable.

Under reporting is a concern in the world of health care. Reporting errors is how medical professionals learn to provide better care. Unfortunately, trying to understand why there is so much under reporting is not easy. Reasons include everything from a misunderstanding of what needs to be tracked to fear of lawsuits.

A recent survey of doctors showed that 20 percent had not fully disclosed a medical error to a patient for fear of being sued. Fear of being sued, however, does not protect a doctor from malpractice. If someone is harmed due to an error made by a doctor, it only makes matters worse if they attempt to hide it.

Source: Ventura County Star, "Report: Patients harmed and no one told," Tom Kisken, Feb. 25, 2012

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