According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, nearly 60,000 medical malpractice cases are reported every year in the United States. In addition to this number however, the DHHS estimates that a staggering 86% of malpractice incidents go unreported. This means that the true number of cases is closer to 430,000 a year.
Although not all of these incidents cause major bodily harm, and some are mere miscommunications, the fact that they exist is alarming. You should be able to trust your physician and hospital 100% of the time, and they should realize that their care should be perfect 100% of the time. We realize that everyone makes mistakes now and again. However, healthcare professionals know that the consequences of their mistakes can be fatal, and are therefore judged at a higher standard.
Unfortunately, a recent study performed by the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine suggests that the higher the standard is for doctors, the less remorse is shown when a mistake is made.
“I’m Sorry” Not Included in Medical Journals
Over the course of one year (May 2012 – May 2013), the malpractice apology study headed by Dr. Marty Makary (professor of surgery at Johns Hopkins) and conducted independently by ProPublica, found that patients who suffer injuries, infections, or mistakes during medical care rarely get an apology or even recognition of the error.
In addition to blatant disregard for patients’ (and their families’) rights to know what happened, the fact that doctors refuse to even acknowledge the errors could be construed as malpractice in itself. Based on the responses of 236 patients, the data collected showed the following:
- According to patient statements, it was common for their health care providers to withhold information about medical mistakes, until pressed or backed into a corner. A mere 9% of patients stated that their medical facility voluntarily disclosed the harm.
- A further 9% of respondents claim that the harm was only disclosed under pressure, when officials did agree to provide information.
- One out of 10 respondents reported that he or a family member received an apology from his doctor or provider as a result of the error.
- In addition to withholding information and apologies, more than 30% of respondents reported that their healthcare provider billed them for treatment directly related to the harm caused by the doctor’s error. The average cost? -$14,000.
Do You Deserve an Apology?
Given the potential health risks involved, as well as the out of pocket cost you could suffer, do you think it’s appropriate for doctors to withhold information about a possible error they caused? Do you feel that in addition to telling you about the incident, he should also apologize for his mistakes? Do you think it’s fair, logical, or moral for him to keep these to himself?
Although we think this type of behavior is absolutely disgraceful, we would like to hear your opinions on the subject. In the comment section provided, please leave your thoughts, concerns, and any personal stories you may have that relate to medical malpractice or dishonest healthcare providers.
Need more information about medical malpractice or the types of restitution you deserve after a medical injury? Contact us today for a free consultation. We’re here to help!