Blog

Medical Errors Should Be Reported to Improve Safety

Posted By Regan Zambri & Long || 11-Dec-2009

Posted by: Salvatore J. Zambri, founding partner

The AP (12/11, Tanner) reports that "in 2005, Illinois legislators…passed a measure requiring hospitals to report the deadliest kind" of medical errors, but "the law has yet to be implemented — and it likely won’t be for at least another year." Illinois "budget woes and foot-dragging by special interests are among reasons cited for the long delay." However, "there are finally glimmers of progress. That includes the recent launch of a related state website that tracks hospital infection rates and staff levels, and the imminent start of a search for a vendor to help put the law in place."

Ten years ago, a landmark report proved that medical mistakes kill up to 98,000 Americans yearly. Only a handful of states have decided to do something about it, Minnesota being the first in 2003. In 2005, Illinois modeled a law after Minnesota’s. Four years later, the law has still not been implemented. Why? Foot-dragging by special interest groups. Finally, though, some progress is being made, including " the recent launch of a related state Web site that tracks hospital infection rates and staff levels, and the imminent start of a search for a vendor to help put the law in place."

According to the AP report, "The law will require hospitals to publicly report so-called "never" mistakes. These are mostly preventable errors with potentially life-threatening consequences — like the wrong-knee surgery Chicago-area doctors performed on a gentleman or the forgotten sponge left inside a Plainfield woman during breast tumor surgery."

A few things the law requires:

  • hospitals required to report major medical errors within 30 days to the state’s public health department
  • list of hospitals and mistakes will be posted online
  • hospitals required to determine cause of errors and to develop corrective plan

These kinds of laws should be in every state in our country. Medical providers should not bow to special interest groups. Sharing more, not less, following an adverse event is the only way to truly minimize future medical errors.

Encourage your legislators to work hard to implement strong laws that clearly work to open communication and spur better, safer health practices.

About the author:

Mr. Zambri is Past-President of the Trial Lawyers Association of Metropolitan Washington, DC and has been rated by Washingtonian magazine as a "Big Gun" and among the "top 1%" of all lawyers in the Washington metropolitan area. The magazine also describes him as "one of Washington’s best–most honest and effective lawyers" whose practice is dedicated to handling catastrophic personal injury matters, including medical malpractice actions stemming from defective or dangerous medications and medical errors. He has also been named a "DC Super Lawyer" by Super Lawyer magazine (2009-2010)–a national publication that honors the top lawyers in America.

Mr. Zambri is regularly asked to present seminars to lawyers and doctors, as well as both medical and law students concerning medication errors, medical malpractice litigation, and safety improvements.

If you want more information about your legal rights, please email Mr. Zambri at szambri@reganfirm.com or call him at 202-822-1899.

Blog Home