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Medical Professionals Fail to Report Near-Misses, According to Study

A new study has determined that medical professionals often fail to report medical errors and near-misses.

November 18, 2011 /24-7PressRelease/ -- A new study by researchers at Johns Hopkins University indicates that 90 percent of physicians have witnessed or experienced a medical error or a "near-miss" of an error, but failed to report the error or near-miss to avoid embarrassment or cause hassle for administrators.

This disturbing discovery was the outcome of e-mail surveys sent to physicians, nurses, radiation specialists and physicists at three of the nation's university health systems. Researchers determined that radiation specialists and physicists tended to report errors more often, but physicians and nurses were less inclined to do so, even though nearly all of the medical professionals surveyed believed that it was their responsibility to report errors and near-misses.

One major recommendation from the study's researchers is that hospitals change the perception of their error-reporting procedures from punishments to constructive "quality improvement tools." If medical professionals view their reporting as a way to improve patient health rather than a punitive consequence, medical error reporting may increase.

Reporting medical errors is important because it is one of the most effective ways for hospitals to track and improve patient safety. If medical errors go unreported, hospitals are unable to identify problem areas and find solutions.

When medical professionals fail to report medical errors, everyone loses. Not only are patients put in danger, doctors and nurses are unmotivated to change their behaviors and hospital administrations are unable to take steps to prevent errors. In addition, failing to report medical errors also leaves future patients vulnerable to the same mistakes.

Legally, failing to report errors leaves doctors, nurses and hospital administrations vulnerable to medical malpractice litigation from patients. Embarrassment, shame and anxiety are not acceptable reasons to not report a medical error or a near-miss. Failing to speak up helps no one and potentially hurts many. Instead, medical professionals should perceive error reporting as a learning opportunity and a way to keep hospitals a safe place for patients.

If you or a loved one have fallen victim to a medical error, please contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney who can advise you of your options.

Article provided by Thomas Q. Keefe, Jr., P.C.


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