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How Malpractice Suits Play a Positive Role in Patient Safety

The rates of medical errors causing patient harm in the United States are surprisingly high, and each year, thousands of patients die or suffer adverse events as a direct result of preventable medical mistakes. While many believe that the threat of medical malpractice claims has a negative effect on transparency and patient safety, with physicians and hospitals being too afraid of medical malpractice lawsuits to report errors, more recent research suggests otherwise, concluding that medical malpractice claims actually aid in protecting patients.

Hospitals Become More Open

A 2013 survey conducted by Joanna A. Schwartz, an assistant professor of law at the University of California, and covered by The New York Times, suggests that hospitals are becoming more open about lawsuits and errors, and that over 80 percent of hospitals maintain a policy of notifying a patient, and apologizing to him or her, when an error does occur.

Further, the study conducted by Schwartz also shows that medical malpractice suits—again, once thought to be a major barrier to transparency—may actually be playing a positive role in patient safety. To be sure, Schwartz reports that over 95 percent of hospitals involved in the survey use lawsuit information to identify and prevent errors.

Other factors that are influencing hospital openness about errors, and doctors’ abilities to learn from those errors, include laws that require full disclosure to patients. Hospitals have also found that the chance of an out-of-court settlement agreement being reached with the patient is greater when hospitals disclose errors and apologize for them early on.

The Benefits of Lawsuits

Lawsuits are beneficial for reasons other than just recovering compensation for victims of malpractice. Indeed, lawsuits often shed light on medical professionals’ and hospitals’ errors, reveal unreported errors, and expose safety and quality concerns. All of these factors may be essential in the implementation of policy and practice changes that are designed to protect patients’ safety. Schwartz goes so far as to say that, “limitations on lawsuits may actually impede patient safety efforts,” and that “medical malpractice lawsuits do not have the harmful effects on patient safety that they are imagined to have – and, in fact, they can do some good.”

Filing a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit in Pennsylvania or New Jersey

When you make the decision to file a medical malpractice lawsuit for damages in Pennsylvania or New Jersey, you are not only taking the first step to improve your own future and recover the money that you need, but you may also be aiding in the protection of future patients.

At Cohen, Placitella & Roth, P.C., our experienced New Jersey and Pennsylvania medical malpractice lawyers want to help you. We can guide you through the process of filing your claim, help you to prove that malpractice occurred, and negotiate for a fair settlement amount. If your case goes to court, we can represent you during litigation and will build a strong case. To request your free case consultation today, contact our offices at (215) 567-3500 now.


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