South Florida Hospital News
Friday October 20, 2017
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February 2013 - Volume 9 - Issue 8

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Acknowledging Medical Errors Is Key to Culture of Transparency

One of the tenets of the Hippocratic Oath is to do no harm. Yet statistics show that physicians often make mistakes and that other physicians overlook these errors for fear of negative consequences. In order to fix our broken health care system, it is imperative that doctors be held accountable for their mistakes and that hospitals enforce a culture of transparency, whereby mistakes are acknowledged and used as an example to ensure that the same errors never happen again.
 
According to a recent essay in the Wall Street Journal, roughly a quarter of all hospitalized patients will be harmed by a medical error of some kind. These errors cost the U.S. health care system tens of billions of dollars per year, not to mention the toll in human lives and suffering. The good news is that more and more people—from doctors to medical administrators to patients—are pushing for greater transparency and more accountability.
 
There are a number of ways to encourage transparency. Newer technologies, such as online physician and hospital rating systems, now provide patients with information on infection, readmission, surgical complications and patient satisfaction scores. This not only provides patients with the data they need to make informed decisions about what physicians and/or hospitals provide the best outcomes for specific procedures, but also forces lesser-performing hospitals to review their standards and take steps to improve performance in order to stay competitive in the market.
 
Communication between doctors, other medical staff and patients is also key. Hospitals should promote and encourage nurses and other employees to speak out when they have a concern about how a procedure is being handled; doctors should be encouraged to share patient notes with patients to ensure accuracy; and gag orders of any kind should not be tolerated if the health care system truly wants to promote transparency, and in turn, patient safety.
 
Data, information-gathering and analysis are proven ways for the medical professional to understand what is not working. If you need assistance in this area, Marcum works with professionals who can help in developing solutions to these types of problems.
 

Mark Fromberg, CPA, partner at Marcum LLP, can be reached at (954) 320-8050 or Mark.Fromberg@marcumllp.com or visit www.marcumllp.com.

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