New Mexico residents may be interested in learning more about some of the inherent risks that still exist in healthcare facilities across the country. Approximately 200,000 patients in the United States die from preventable medical errors every year. Communication failures among healthcare staff is typically the primary factor that attributed to the prevalence of these costly mistakes. A 2005 study revealed that substantial risks frequently transpire due to poor communication between medical professionals.
In a 2005 study of 1,700 medical professionals, over 50 percent of the respondents reported witnessing a co-worker making an error, breaking a rule, demonstrating incompetence, being disrespectful or some other poor practice. Nearly 90 percent of the doctors reported working with colleagues who exhibited poor clinical judgement. Almost 85 percent of the physicians admitted to witnessing co-workers taking shortcuts that were dangerous for the patients receiving the treatment. The study also showed that less than 10 percent of the respondents actually confronted their colleagues directly about the errors committed at the workplace.
A 2010 follow-up study reported that safety protocols had since been improved, but the systemic communication failures were still subjecting patients to unnecessary risks. Many medical professionals still express fear when presented with the opportunity to challenge a colleague, so the capabilities of the improving IT applications are often moot. Nurses may be wary of correcting the presiding physician, or medical staff may fear the consequences of admitting culpability for an error detected by an automated system.
When a patient suffers injuries caused by a medical error, the physician, medical staff and healthcare facility may be held liable for the resulting damages. Lawyers might be able to help these plaintiffs obtain restitution that accounts for corrective procedures, the costs of rehabilitation, loss of income or any other economic hardships attributable to the physician errors.