Catastrophic Medical Mistakes: Laws Now Requires District and Maryland Hospitals to Report Errors that Result in Serious Injuries

In the last year, hospitals in Maryland, the District, and Virginia have reported hundreds of medical incidents that have resulted in serious medical harm or death. That’s because new laws that went into effect in 2008 require these hospitals to notify health regulators about serious injuries sustained by patient during treatments. Health experts call these incidents “never events” that never should have happened.

Examples of some of the hospital errors that have been reported include medication mistakes, fall accidents, operations on the wrong body parts, and leaving surgical tools inside patients.

According to Maryland health regulators, insurers paid $522 million in 2008 for preventable complications in 55,000 of 800,000 inpatient cases that took place in hospitals. Now, some insurers are refusing to pay for a hospital’s mistakes.

Beginning this month, the Maryland commission in charge of setting hospital ratings will let facilities that report the fewest amount of mistakes bill insurers at a higher rate, while hospitals with the most mistakes will have to bill a lower rate. Maryland hospitals also must come up with plans to prevent hospital mistakes from happening.

Between July 2007 and June 2008, clinics, hospitals, and nursing homes in the District reported 529 hospital mistakes—14 of which were fatal. IV-related infections, bedsores, and retained foreign objects during surgery were among the most common medical errors to occur.

Hospital Malpractice

Like all kinds of medical malpractice, hospital errors can be grounds for a Maryland medical malpractice or wrongful death lawsuit if a patient suffers serious injuries or dies as a result of a mistake that takes place in a hospital.

Examples of hospital mistakes:
• Medication mix-ups
• Wrong diagnosis
• Failure to provide the proper care
• Failure to properly monitor a patient’s vitals
• Failure to obtain informed consent
• Birthing errors
• Anesthesia errors
• Surgical mistakes
• Testing mistakes
• Delayed diagnosis
• Failure to prevent preventable infections
Hospitals Tally Their Avoidable Mistakes, The Washington Post, July 21, 2009
Medical Malpractice: When Can Patients Sue a Hospital for Negligence?, Nolo
Related Web Resources:

Maryland Hospital Patient Safety Program (PDF)

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