Detecting Hidden Medical Mistakes And Cover-Ups

Over 90,000 people die every year as the result of mistakes made in hospitals. Worse, 1 out of every 100 people hospitalized suffers a needless, preventable injury. However, only 1.5 percent of the mistakes that are made result in a lawsuit. Why don't more people file? In part, they may not know a mistake was made. This is what you should know about hidden medical mistakes, cover-ups, and your ability to get justice through a lawsuit.

A lot of mistakes are never reported.

One survey found that only 54% of medical residents even knew how to use their hospital's error-reporting system and only 13% admitted that they would likely use it. Risk management companies say that many institutions only report harm when they think that it will be discovered by another means. 

The reason that doctors and hospitals generally avoid reporting mistakes whenever they can is simply that the healthcare industry is just that -- an industry. Profits and losses affect the bottom line. In addition, doctors are generally disinclined to report the mistakes of other doctors, even if they're willing to report their own.

Some mistakes are deliberately buried.

Sometimes hospitals and doctors go to great lengths to avoid lawsuits. For example, a shocking study by John Hopkins shows that 98% medication errors were actually hidden from patients. In addition, medical evidence can also be tampered with in a number of ways:

  • New records can be created in an attempt to make it look like a patient received different treatment.

  • Notes can be added to make it look like a doctor informed a patient of certain risks when he or she did not.

  • Informed consent documents can be forged.

  • Extra notations can be added to records to show that a doctor asked certain diagnostic questions.

  • Diagnostic information can be removed from a chart to make it look like a physician was uninformed about something important.

  • Notes can be added to say that a patient communicated something incorrect that led to the error.

  • Timelines can be tampered with to make it look like a patient received care when he or she was actually left alone for an extended period of time under dangerous conditions.

Mistakes and cover-ups can be discovered.

One of the first things to do, if you suspect a medical mistake, is to consult an attorney. If the mistake resulted in someone's death, a wrongful death attorney may request an autopsy, if it is still possible. Autopsies are generally considered the "ultimate medical audit," but are now performed on only 5% of cases where the cause of death isn't certain. Many experts believe that autopsies, in general, are being done in fewer and fewer cases because hospitals fear that they'll reveal evidence of malpractice and wrongful death.

In addition, attorneys can employ document examiners who can discover tampered evidence through differences in ink, chemical analysis of the paper, and mismatched timelines that show up through comparisons of medical records and billing records. They can also employ medical consultants to examine charts to look for missing information.

If you suspect that a medical error happened and someone is either hiding it or outright lying about it, contact an attorney near you today.