Insights Into the Underreporting of Medical Mistakes

Rosemary Gibson, MSc, is the former senior program officer at the Robert Wood Johnson foundation and authored The Treatment Trap and Wall of Silence. Both deal with medical mistakes, and look to determine why so many go unreported. According to Gibson, the primary issues affecting the rate or medical errors in hospitals include:

  • Fear of retribution—When medical staff is scared to report an error, they won't report it.
  • A sense of disbelief—Many medical professionals, such as hospital CEOs, have a hard time believing that such serious errors could be happening in their hospital.
  • Competing pressures—With added pressures of healthcare reform, it's possible that some safety issues have been "moved to the back burner."
  • Productivity demands—Increasingly, doctors are asked to take on more and more patients. This can lead to a higher rate of medical mistakes.

Those concerned about patient safety are worried that instead of getting better, the underreporting is getting worse. Many speculate that the lack of a formal reporting system is contributing to the alarmingly high rate of medical errors going unreported. 

"If your child gets injured by a defective crib, there's a system for you to report that," said Ms. Gibson. "We need that for hospitals. There should be an open capability for reporting online, in person, any way you want, whether you're on the hospital staff, a patient or a family member. Such a system should acknowledge the report, provide for an immediate action step in urgent situations, and offer assistance and support to the person doing the reporting."

Was Your Medical Mistake Reported?

Chances are, it wasn't. So what are you to do? How can you ensure that the medical staff is held responsible for their actions and that you get the compensation you need to recover? Call 757.625.1214 to speak with our experienced Virginia Beach medical malpractice attorneys. We are passionate about patient rights and will do our best to ensure that your best interests are represented. Time is of the essence. Please call today.