Prospective patients have few options for investigating the quality of care provided at Arizona hospitals. Rates of medical errors and infections along with information about serious medical mistakes tend to be kept secret. The state has no laws requiring hospitals to report mistakes, and national databases tend to present old and incomplete data.
For example, the board of directors at the Tucson Medical Center receives reports about serious and preventable medical errors but does not disclose the information publicly or share it with other organizations. Provisions within the Affordable Care Act sought to improve reporting about error data, but 60 members of the U.S. Congress asked the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to delay publication of hospital safety ratings.
At the state level, laws have made it more difficult to prove the negligence of an emergency room physician. The evidence must be clear and convincing for a lawsuit to have a chance of success in the courtroom. As a result, many errors result in confidential settlements that prevent details about medical harm reaching the public record.
Although state law compels hospitals to inform patients of mistakes, too often institutions fail to inform patients and family members of serious errors. A patient who has been harmed and who wishes to hold a health care facility accountable could ask an attorney for support. An attorney could evaluate the patient's medical records and obtain the opinion of an independent medical expert to see if the care failed to meet accepted professional standards. After compiling evidence of hospital negligence, an attorney could attempt to settle the matter with the institution's insurance provider. If the amount offered was insufficient, the attorney could proceed with a medical malpractice lawsuit.