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Some hospitals encouraging full disclosure after surgical errors

Patients in Delaware may be interested to learn that many hospitals are adopting programs that encourage medical professionals to participate in "communication and resolution" programs. The programs aim to encourage open communication between a physician and patient and/or families when adverse events or surgical errors occur. Many hospitals who have adopted the program feel that it's the moral thing to do, and victims or family members of victims often appreciate the answers the physicians provide. Traditionally, physicians and medical institutions have adopted a "deny and defend" policy even when known errors have occurred in an attempt to avoid medical malpractice lawsuits, but studies indicate that the open disclosure of any errors that may have occurred may not increase lawsuits.

One man in another state lost his wife during an elective surgery and understands the feeling of not receiving a full disclosure of events that took place with her medical care. His wife underwent a surgery to remove a mass on her liver that was not determined to be cancerous. His wife died following the surgery, and he claims that he was only told that unexpected blood loss resulted in her having cardiac arrest.

Apparently, the woman's husband needed more closure following his wife's death, and her surgeon agreed to meet with him. The surgeon explained that a tool used during the surgery likely malfunctioned, resulting in the woman's uncontrolled bleeding and death. Following the conversation, the husband filed a lawsuit and recently settled for $5.5 million.

The man claims that even if the surgeon had immediately disclosed the details of his wife's death, he would have filed a lawsuit. He is now a single parent raising their two girls on his own, and he was unsure if he would receive all the answers to why his wife died without the assistance of an attorney. If anyone suspects a family member may be one of the 98,000 who die from preventable medical or surgical errors every year, the advice of an attorney could be invaluable. Some cases may be appropriate for a medical malpractice lawsuit in a Delaware civil court.

Source: sj-r.com, "Medical industry trends toward more openness after errors", Dean Olsen, Jan. 21, 2018

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