Brachial Plexus InjuryMay 29, 2018
Medical Malpractice Claims Lead to Real Industry Change
Clients will often tell us they are less interested in the money they can win in a lawsuit, and more concerned that nobody else experiences the same pain or loss they suffered through. This is particularly true with medical malpractice cases. People want to trust their doctors and hospitals. We rely on medical professionals to come through for us in times of crisis. We need them to be at the top of their game.
Cynics may say, yeah, but at the end of the day this really IS all about the money, right?
We’re here to say firmly: No. Not true.
At Keefe, Keefe & Unsell P.C., we always keep the big picture in mind as we work tirelessly to win cases.
When we file a lawsuit, it’s because our careful research has shown that a harmful, preventable error did in fact occur and we want to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
Our overriding goal is to bring justified claims that produce real industry change — building accountability, increasing safety, educating doctors, generating evolved diagnostic models, and so on.
And, of course, we want to obtain the best results for our clients. After all, their lives have been forever altered.
So how do lawsuits keep medical and health professionals sharp? Well, aside from the inherent shame and financial penalty involved in settling a claim or losing in court, every single lawsuit provides a learning opportunity for the industry. Look no further than this report from Coverys, a leading medical professional liability insurance provider.
First, it’s important to understand what Coverys does: In addition to providing liability insurance, they offer education and risk analytics/mitigation to medical practitioners and health systems. In other words, they tell medical professionals what to do (and what not to do) to minimize the kind of errors that lead to lawsuits. While that sounds self-serving, it benefits all of us.
Fewer errors means fewer lives lost, plain and simple.
So back to the report — “Diagnostic Accuracy: Room for Improvement”. Coverys learned that diagnosis-related errors are the single largest root cause of medical professional liability claims.
So they went on to analyze more than 10,000 of their closed medical professional liability claims across a five-year period (2013-2017), to identify the root causes of diagnostic error and, subsequently, how to prevent errors in the future.
Coverys found the greatest risk for error occurs early in the diagnostic process — at points where “listening, communicating and data interpretation are key.” We’re willing to bet every single one of you reading this is nodding your head right now. Ever been to a doctor’s appointment that felt rushed? Where you felt you were being talked at, but not really having a conversation? Well, there can be serious consequences to poor bedside manner, as this report shows.
Coverys determined errors are concentrated in two areas, Patient Evaluation and Testing, and are often caused by the following failures (see Page 5 of the report):
(33% of Claims)
- Obtain complete patient history
- Obtain complete family history
- Review patient history in the file
- Conduct relevant & thorough physical exam
- Order the appropriate tests
- Properly perform tests/transmit results
- Accurately interpret test results
- Communicate with other providers
- Communicate results to patient
- Repeat or follow up on tests
Their report mentions several case studies, including that of a gentleman who was sent home with a flu diagnosis and died of a heart attack. We don’t bring this to your attention to scare you, but rather, so you can be assertive in how you receive your medical care. If you feel you are being rushed through an appointment or not getting clear answers, stand firm and insist upon appropriate treatment.
Now, here’s the other important reason we are bringing this to your attention. Coverys took this data and issued a series of recommendations to help medical professionals improve their care.
For example, one suggestion was to implement a checklist that physicians would be required to use during physical examinations, ensuring any risk factors in the patient’s medical or family history become known. It’s an amazingly straightforward solution, and one that might have caught that heart attack that was diagnosed more simply as the flu. There are a host of other sound recommendations in the report, hopefully already being put to use.
From lawsuit to action. Real results that can save lives. That’s pretty cool and that’s why we do this.
At Keefe, Keefe & Unsell, medical malpractice case evaluation and litigation are longstanding, clear strengths. Our firm engages in thorough, careful pre-screening and pursues cases judged meritorious by a network of qualified physicians and other experts. If you or a loved one has been victimized by a serious medical mistake with life-changing or fatal consequences, please contact us by clicking here or fill out the contact form below for a thorough, informed evaluation of your potential legal case.