It seems that for every episode involving of complex medical care that goes wrong during an admission to a nursing home or hospital, there are at least a handful of ‘adverse events’ that result simply from the fact that someone at the facility wasn’t doing his or her job properly.
Not all bad outcomes are the result of negligent care
In reviewing hundreds of medical malpractice cases, one of the most difficult parts of the evaluation process is explaining to families how an adverse outcome doesn’t necessary equate to a viable case in a legal sense. As a party initiating a medical negligence lawsuit, the individual or family bringing the case has the burden of proving their case and must establish not that there was just a bad outcome—but most crucially, the poor outcome existed because of a ‘deviation in the standard of care’ on the part of the treating physician or staff— a much more difficult hurdle to cross than simply demonstrating that someone was injured.
Second guessing medical errors is not always a fair was of assessing blame
While it’s easy to look back at incidents—after the fact—and say how the outcome would have been different had it been for a staff member who may have been a little more attentive or if things would have simply been done in a slightly different way, these critiques may be unfair given the working environment. My experience that the vast majority of people who work in the medical field are concerned, dedicated people who are genuinely concerned about the patients they care for. However, when I read about episodes involving a needless injury of a patient while they were admitted to a hospital, I must second guess the judgment of some of these folks—and truly wonder what, if anything was going on?
Blatant errors still exist when it comes to caring for a patient
Case in point, a man recovering from heart surgery at a Pennsylvania hospital died after her became trapped between the mattress and the side rails on the bed. While the design of the bed itself, may not have been ideal, I place a good portion of the blame on the staff at the facility for failing to monitor the patient—or even look to see the fit of the mattress in the bed frame. While there are new technologies available to help staff monitor patients well being and safety, nothing can ever take the place of old fashioned common sense and continuing care. It seems that the patient’s family feels similarly (and who can blame them?) as they have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the hospital and the manufacturer of the bed. While we will await to see how—or if– a jury apportions blame between the facility and the bed manufacturer, I hope that a jury hearing this matter recognizes this case for what it really is— a case of someone not properly doing their job—as opposed to a complex medical situation with an educated judgment gone wrong.