Nine out of ten hospitals in Arizona do not meet a patient safety watchdog's standard for dealing with 'never events." In a report on this issue, Leapfrog rated hospitals around the country on their responses to egregious medical errors like fatal medication mistakes, serious falls, wrong-site surgeries and objects left inside patients' bodies after surgery.
According to Leapfrog, a hospital should respond to a never event by offering an apology to the injured patient and waiving all of the patient's medical bills. Leapfrog also advises hospitals to report never events to the Joint Commission or a similar body and perform an analysis about the root cause of the medical error. Right now, 20 percent of hospitals in the U.S. have no policy for dealing with never events.
There were some states that fared well in Leapfrog's analysis. In Massachusetts, Maine and Washington, 100 percent of the hospitals that were studied were in compliance with Leapfrog's standards for never events. A spokesperson from Leapfrog said that she thinks hospitals may not comply with the standards because they fear acknowledgment of a never event will increase lawsuits. Research has actually shown that patients are less likely to file a lawsuit if they receive a full apology for a medical mistake.
When a health care provider is secretive about an egregious medical mistake, injured patient could be left in the dark about the outcome after surgery. Later on, the patient may experience a medical emergency that they do not know the root cause of. An attorney may be able to help an injured patient to determine when a medical error occurred and file a lawsuit based on hospital negligence.