By Leah Fertig
From birth to our final day, there may never come a time we aren’t dependent on a compassionate healthcare provider. Like the fragility of our lives, healthcare institutions are challenged with many risks that may take their focus off of critical patient care. This is unacceptable, mainly if you or your loved one is reliant on critical attention during the distraction.
According to The Joint Commission, the top reported sentinel event of 2017 was unintended retention of a foreign object (URFOs), with a total of 116 cases reported.
In April 2017, a California woman had abdominal surgery that resulted in an emergency return approximately two weeks later after experiencing extreme pain. During the emergency visit, doctors found the 8-inch surgical forceps inside her abdomen from the previous surgical procedure, and her small intestine looped through the surgical forceps handle. The woman had to have 18 inches of her small intestine removed. While stunning to most people, not entirely new news to those who work in the healthcare profession.
As a result, a lawsuit requesting medical and incidental expenses, loss of past and future earnings, and more claims were filed by the patient. It’s not just the isolated, event-specific financial impact that’s concerning, the long-term reputation of the institution and the healthcare providers are at stake. Not only are lawsuits public record, but named parties may also eventually reach the court of public opinion where judgment is rendered on a moment’s notice.
Crisis isn’t a matter of “if,” but “when.” There are thousands of law firms that focus exclusively on medical malpractice because it is considered a preventable mistake, which can ultimately lead to a wrongful death suit. While tragic on many levels, the posture of the healthcare institution and its legal counsels will impact reputation. The stakes are high as the decisions leaders make today will be judged by many for years to come.
To learn more about how healthcare organizations can reduce their points of exposure and effectively lead during life’s most critical times, email firstname.lastname@example.org and one of our experts will connect with you. Remember, if you don’t tell your story, someone else will. And, when someone else tells your story, it certainly won’t be the story you want told!