Helping the Injured in Tennessee Since 1977

Using communications technology to save lives in hospitals

Many people in Tennessee suffer serious personal injury or needlessly die due to preventable medical errors. Within hospital environments, there is a pervasive culture of silence, leading other medical staff to fail to confront those doctors, colleagues and superiors they notice making errors, sometimes leading to tragic results.

The problem is that staff may be worried they will be labeled as a snitch or a troublemaker if they report or confront the person for the problematic medical error. The problem is well known within the healthcare industry, as demonstrated by a 2005 study. The study found that greater than 50 percent of 1,700 nurses, doctors and other medical staff had witnessed others making medical errors, demonstrating incompetence and breaking rules. While that statistic may be shocking, even worse was that only 10 percent had actually reported the problem, leaving patients at risk.

Hospitals may want to consider implementing communications technologies that can track what the staff is doing autonomously, similar to the use of black boxes in aircraft. If such systems are in place, medical staff may feel as if they are better able to confront people who they witness performing inadequate medical care without fear of retaliation.

A culture of silence can lead to heightened risk to patients, so it is important for hospitals to utilize the resources available to encourage people to report and confront such errors. When medical staff observe doctor negligence, they should promptly address their concerns with that person. Medical staff owes a duty of care to every patient for whom they provide care, and when they fail to protect those patients, they fail in the duty they owe. When a person is seriously injured due to the negligent treatment provided by a physician or other medical staff, the injured victim may want to consider filing a medical malpractice lawsuit.

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