BALTIMORE, May 4, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- A study estimating 250,000 patients die each year in the U.S. as the result of medical errors committed in hospitals and other health care facilities is proof that the current system of doctors limiting discussion of inpatient deaths to their peers in closed meetings has not worked to keep patients safe, says Howard Janet, attorney and author of Navigating a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit: What You Need to Know.
"After more than 30 years of legal practice, what I know is that medical mistakes tend to get buried – literally and figuratively," Janet said. "Seriously harmed patients, their families and even their lawyers rarely, if ever, are granted access to peer review findings about what may have caused the serious injury or death. This is the law in all 50 states and is contributing to our epidemic of patient deaths due to medical error.
"It's time to do away with peer review protections."
The new study published May 3 in the BMJ, a weekly peer-reviewed medical journal, analyzed four previous studies to reach the conclusion that medical mistakes are now the third leading cause of death in the U.S. The 1999 National Institutes of Health landmark report, To Err is Human, estimated that medical error caused 98,000 deaths each year.
The latest study, led by Johns Hopkins researchers, noted that incidences of medical error are not routinely recorded. Authors said adding a box for "medical error" as a cause of death on death certificates would provide valuable data.
The study also noted that "morbidity and mortality conferences" in the aftermath of a patient death or serious injury often result in valuable lessons learned, but the benefit is confined to one hospital or even one department.
"If medical mistakes were routinely noted, disclosed publicly and analyzed independently, future lives could be saved and consumers could become better health advocates for themselves," Janet said.
Instead of grappling with a 'gut feeling' that something went wrong, patients and their families should be told the truth so they can take advantage of their rights under the law to be compensated for their medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering and other losses, Janet said.
"Only one in eight patients injured by medical malpractice ever files a lawsuit. That means seven injured patients or their families are left financially burdened and struggling because of someone else's preventable mistake. This is heartbreaking," Janet said.
Howard Janet, founder and managing partner of Janet, Jenner & Suggs, LLC, has represented victims of medical malpractice and other injuries for more than 30 years. He was solicited by news corporation Thomas Reuters to write a book about his experiences, Navigating a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit. What You Need to Know. He also is co-author of Patients' Rights and Doctors' Wrongs – Secrets to a Safer Pregnancy and Childbirth, written to help expectant parents take an informed, pro-active role in getting quality care. In 2015 he was named Trial Lawyer of the Year by the Maryland Association for Justice for his work in a landmark medical malpractice and invasion of privacy lawsuit that produced a $190 million settlement.
Contact: Teresa Kelly, (512) 328-4276, email@example.com
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SOURCE Janet, Jenner & Suggs, LLC