‘Fessing up to medical errors

In the old days, hospitals were not allowed to admit medical errors to patients and families. Today, at some hospitals, that has changed. Today’s Globe story on a lawsuit over a fatal overdose of blood thinner contains this statement from Mass General.

A spokeswoman for Massachusetts General Hospital said in a statement yesterday that the hospital regrets the error, and “our hearts go out to Mrs. Oswald’s family.’’

Spokeswoman Peggy Slasman said that the hospital has enacted new guidelines for the administering of Lepirudin. One plan, according to a hospital report, is to improve the way doctors review and approve new dose infusions.

“As soon as we understood what had happened, we apologized and explained the situation to Mrs. Oswald’s family,’’ said Slasman. “We undertook a thorough and extensive internal review of the case, and we communicated with family members throughout this process. As a result of this event, we have made some specific changes to our practices to reduce the chance of such an event from occurring again.’’

Could this be a new approach to the hospitals case in a malpractice suit? Worth checking into. In the meantime,  there is now a group that recognizes that medical errors are hard for both clinicians and their patients. They’ve generated a nasty bit of jargon, but their approach is unprecedented.

Medically Induced Trauma Support Services (MITSS), Inc. is a non-profit organization founded in June of 2002 whose mission is “To Support Healing and Restore Hope” to patients, families, and clinicians who have been affected by an adverse medical event.

Medically induced trauma is an unexpected outcome that occurs during medical and/or surgical care that affects the emotional well being of the patient, family member, or clinician.


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