Over 80 percent of errors within hospitals go unreported, according to a study conducted by the Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Inspector General. Medical professionals blame the current punitive hospital culture for the high rate of unreported mistakes and are calling hospital administrators to shift from a focus on punishment to open discourse. Experts claim this change will help resolve the conditions leading to hospital mistakes.

Study's Findings

Changing the culture of hospitals is difficult, but the American Medical Association (AMA) states that evidence is growing that this focus on frank discussion of mistakes and adverse events will result in "better clinical outcomes and lower rates of hospital-acquired conditions."

Currently, most professionals do not feel such discussions are encouraged by hospital administration. Instead, 37 percent of hospital workers are afraid to voice concerns regarding treatment that may lead to a potential injury. In addition to hesitation voicing concerns, the study also found workers often refrained from reporting errors when they occurred, including:

  • Hospital-based infections
  • Severe bedsores
  • Wrong or overdoses of medication

Patient safety analysts state that "this is a major problem in hospitals, that we still have this residue of a pretty punitive culture." The push to a more open dialogue began in 2007, but administrators are dragging their feet. Since 2007, 16 percent of hospitals have increased punishments and the majority have yet to implement changes.

When Mistakes Lead to Malpractice

Even while hospitals strive to provide a safe environment for patients, mistakes happen. These mistakes rise to the level of medical malpractice when a negligent act or omission by a medical professional leads to an injury. This can occur due to an error in diagnosis or treatment.

If you or a loved one is a victim of a medical professional's negligence, you have a right to recover damages. In order to protect your legal rights and remedies, it is important to contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney.