In the September issue of The Atlantic, David Goldhill, author of “How American Health Care Killed My Father”, talks about how his father entered the hospital with pneumonia, but was killed by a series of infections he picked up while in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of the hospital. Unfortunately, thousands of families across the country have similar stories about family members who walk into a hospital, health clinic, doctor’s office or nursing home feeling relatively healthy, and never leave because of deadly infections. To discuss a similar incident with a qualified Chicago medical negligence lawyer, call Passen & Powell at (312) 527-4500 for a free consultation.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that infections picked up at hospitals or other buildings that are supposed to be sterile, kill nearly 100,000 people a year. Infections in hospitals may be preventable if proper care is taken before, during and after treatment or a procedure, such as surgery. If your have lost a loved one due to a preventable infection at a hospital, talk to a personal injury lawyer today about your case.
The CDC statistic cited above caused Mr. Goldhill to ask: “How does a nation that might close down a business for a single illness from a suspicious hamburger tolerate the carnage inflicted by our hospitals?” Good question.
Still, there are a myriad of answers, which the article alludes to when talking about Dr. Peter Pronovost who came up with a checklist of Intensive Care Unit (ICU) protocols governing physician hand-washing and other basic sterilization procedures. Indeed, the advocacy group, Public Citizen, points to such basic sanitary measures as a means of saving 85,000 lives and $35 billion a year in its report titled, “Back to Basics.”
One recommendation made by Public Citizen is particularly timely: strengthening the Health Care Quality Improvement Act of 1986, which requires hospitals to report incompetent doctors.
The Health Care Quality Improvement Act of 1986, 42 U.S.C. § 11101, was passed in to a series of issues, including “incompetent physicians [moving] from state to state without disclosure or discovery of physician’s previous damaging or incompetent performance” and retaliation for poor professional peer reviews. The Act authorized the federal government to establish a National Practitioner Data Bank, and requires hospitals to report any physician who has had his or her privileges revoked or restricted for at least 30 days.
The Act also spells out the duty of hospitals to request information on all physicians who apply to be on staff, and to check the information for all physicians on staff every two years.
Public Citizen notes that even though health care professionals and Congress thought the law would prompt 10,000 reports a year, “the number of reports has averaged only 650.” Such lax reporting puts the public in harms way, unnecessarily exposing patients to potentially negligent doctors and medical malpractice.
Failure to report physician wrongdoing that results in catastrophic injury or death for a patient may be considered negligence, especially if the physician has a history of wrongdoing that has gone unreported. Both the physician and the hospital may be held responsible, so contact an experienced personal injury lawyer about your case.