Our Chicago medical malpractice attorneys have long railed against doctors and hospitals’ refusal to make simple changes and institute basic, common-sense procedures, which would reduce errors and complications, prevent hardships, and save lives. Now, study after study is piling up in support of this position, showing that the doctors and hospitals that implement these steps have reduced complications, errors, and even costs.
Most notably, a recent study found that when hospitals bucked the existing standard of clamming up when a medical error occurs, and instead openly acknowledging the error, apologizing, and working with the patient to make things right, medical malpractice claims dropped off dramatically and the administrative and legal costs associated with such claims dropped by an astounding sixty-one percent.
What this and other recent studies amply demonstrate is that a culture of entitlement and arrogance can no longer be permitted to flourish in our nation’s healthcare system. At present, doctors are steeped in a culture that tells them that they reign supreme, that they should not be questioned.
Dr. Peter Pronovost, an anesthesiologist and director of Hopkins’s Quality and Safety Research Group and the author of the book “Safe Patients, Smart Hospitals,” has publicly related his previous run-in with a surgeon who refused to change from latex to non-latex gloves, in spite of being informed by Dr. Provost and a nurse that the patient was in the midst of a life-threatening allergic reaction to the latex. The surgeon persisted in this arrogant refusal until the nurse picked up the phone and began to dial the hospital president. Such arrogance is unacceptable in the clinical setting where patients’ lives are at stake.
Doctors, while highly educated in the science of medicine, need more training in how to interact with other people: medical staff, nurses, pharmacists, and especially patients. They also require greater training in how to recognize and prevent unnecessary medical errors in a clinical setting.
Our medical malpractice attorneys believe that, first and foremost, changes must be made in the way American doctors are trained. If only a small portion of medical school – a single class or practicum – were devoted to these issues, the benefits would be overwhelming. Doctors must be taught, from the beginning, that the nuts and bolts of practice and error prevention are every bit as important as the science of medicine.
Some schools are already beginning to make these changes. Notably, the University of Illinois College of Medicine has begun providing this type of useful, practical training to its medical students. Our Chicago personal injury lawyers applaud the University for its efforts, and encourage other medical schools to adopt similar programs.
If all doctors learned these basic, common sense skills early in their careers, countless errors could be prevented. As proof of this point, Dr. Pronovost, routinely asks nurses about compliance with his landmark five-point checklist for preventing central line infections, about which we have previously written. Central line infections affect around 80,000 American patients each year, claiming around 30,000 lives and costing about $2 billion.
When Dr. Pronovost’s checklist, which contains such simple expedients as handwashing, was put in place at John’s Hopkins, central line infections virtually disappeared. When the checklist was instituted in certain Michigan hospitals, infection rates immediately dropped by two-thirds. Yet Dr. Pronovost states that when he asks nurses whether they would say something to a physician who failed to follow the checklist, he is “uniformly laughed at.”
For a free consultation with an experienced Chicago medical malpractice lawyer at Passen & Powell, call us at (312) 527-4500.