Should your ability to get safe medical care depend on what hospital you choose? You may not even have a choice, depending on the circumstances. If you’re brought to a hospital by ambulance in an emergency, it’s unlikely that you have the luxury of stopping to ask the emergency medical technicians if they know the facility’s safety ratings before they leave you there. Yet, your life may actually depend on that very information.
Hospitals in Massachusetts are required to disclose any “serious reportable events” to the Department of Public Health each year as part of an effort to maintain transparency and monitor the performance of each hospital within the state. A serious reportable event is any clear lapse or failure in health care that results in death or serious harm to a patient. That includes things like performing surgery on the wrong body part (or wrong patient), leaving a foreign object in a patient, giving a patient the wrong medication or wrong dosage of a medication, performing the wrong surgery entirely and giving a patient the wrong blood products.
There were 821 more SREs in Massachusetts’ hospitals in 2015 then there were in 2014 — and one facility alone accounted for 575 of the total 1,313 SREs reported for the entire year. Medical mistakes weren’t limited to just one facility, however. The top three medical errors reported included the use of contaminated drugs or devices, injuries due to falls and pressure ulcers.
While those seeking to put a more positive spin on the figures are quick to point out that the increase in numbers may have a lot to do with better reporting procedures and the need to treat patients quickly, that’s far from reassuring. All that means, really, is that there may be many more SREs that have gone unreported, and possibly unrecognized, in previous years and in other facilities.
If you believe that you’ve been the victim of poor medical care or subjected to an error in treatment that’s left you injured or in pain, contact one of our attorneys or check out our page to learn more about why we’re uniquely qualified to handle hospital negligence cases.