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What is a hospital's obligation for reporting errors?

Many elements can contribute to medical mistakes. Between long hours, miscommunications and individual complexities, there are many opportunities for a medical team to make mistakes.

Unfortunately, some are better than others at accepting responsibility for their mistakes. Hospitals and their personnel often worry about their reputation more than reporting an error.

This is what you need to know about a hospital's obligation to report errors.

Private conferences

Dealing with a medical malpractice claim is expensive for both the medical staff and the hospital as a whole. In addition to the expense, an error raises a bigger question about the quality of care, the hospital and medical team provide. During a time when reputation matters, hospitals do not want to risk the damage.

Instead of being open about mistakes, the typical protocol for hospitals is to hold private meetings to discuss what happened and then report the error only to a privileged third-party safety group. In many cases, it can feel impossible to get these records.

Candor protocol

More recently, people in the medical profession are advocating for more disclosure about medical mistakes. Some hospitals are implementing what is called the Communication and Optimal Resolution (CANDOR) process.

CANDOR is a system for hospitals to proactively disclose errors so that patients have the information they need in the case of a medical malpractice claim and so that hospitals can learn from mistakes.

Getting information about unreported errors

Unfortunately, patients may not know there was an error until they start having more symptoms, or they have an exam with another physician. Since many hospitals still operate under the old "deny and defend" strategy, even a physician outside the claim may be hesitant to disclose an error.

When you are trying to put a claim together, information can be challenging to come by. Often it can take a combination of insurance representatives, other physicians and an attorney to get a hospital to disclose information about a medical error.

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