Monday, February 4, 2013

Hospital Letter Patient Testing Mistake Malpractice

In Pennsylvania and across the country we are seeing situations where a, error, mistake or crime occurs in a hospital that prompts a hospital to send out many letters to patientsPatients receiving letters from hospitals should think twice about tossing the letter right into the garbage.  These hospital letters are often an indication of a negligence or worse much larger then what is described in the letter.

Hospitals do not want to send letters to patients notifying them of a problem because they do not want to get sued.  Never mind patient safety, the hospital is a business looking out for its bottom line like any other for-profit corporation.  But hospitals are put in a tough position when something big and bad happens.  If they do not report to patients and word leaks out through some other channel then the matter may be perceived as a cover up and lead to much more attention from the media and possible punitive damage lawsuits.  On the other hand, if hospitals tell all the patients about the negligent issue and the harm it may have caused then they are notifying a large class of people and someone or many people from that group may sue.

So hospitals, somewhat to their credit, generally seem to choose the path of notifying the patients but hedging in two important ways.  First, these hospital letters rarely admit fault.  The word "may" is extremely common in these letters.  "You may have been exposed to dirty instruments" "you may have been in the same wing of this employee that was discovered stealing medications."  MAY, MAY MAY.....  They use may because when a lawsuit is filed, they can argue that they never admitted to anything through the notifying letter.  "May" gives hospitals' attorneys all kinds of procedural outs.

Second, these hospital letters usually minimize the extent of any harm caused.  "While it is highly unlikely you were exposed to any diseases, we are willing to offer you free blood testing."  While one could argue that it is best not to alarm people for no reason and cause undue fear and stress...on the other hand by downplaying the possible risk, the hospital is creating a situation where patients do not take recommendations for testing or other matters seriously enough.

The bottom line is that if you ever receive a letter from your hospital advising of something untoward that may have happened during your admission....mull the matter over, talk it over with family and friends to make sure it is something you do not need to consider more seriously! Share this post :
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