Ben Zimmermann was featured in a Sunday Boston Globe Health and Wellness article. Here’s an excerpt:
When Something Medically Goes Wrong
Each year in Massachusetts hospitals, hundreds of patients are injured because of serious medical errors and other safety problems. Some die as a result of these mishaps.
Earlier this month, the state Department of Public Health published its latest tally of serious reportable events: 753 in 2013. That’s a 70 percent jump over the prior year, when acute-care hospitals reported 444 incidents. While health officials attribute the rise to more complete reporting by hospitals — rather than to deteriorating conditions — it’s clear that safety problems are prevalent.[…]
Are hospitals giving patients the information they want, and are entitled to?
Disagreement exists about this.
“For the most part, hospitals do a very good job,” Biondolillo said. When they don’t, health officials require them to add more information to the reports that are given to patients. “You can tell whether a hospital did a systematic, thoughtful analysis or whether it was cursory and they were not taking responsibility,” she said.
But Benjamin Zimmermann, a malpractice attorney with the Boston law firm Sugarman & Sugarman, said some hospital reports given to patients contain “bare bones information” that is meant to comply with the regulations but does not always satisfy patients and families.
In one case in which a patient died of a medication error, the pharmacist dispensed the wrong dose but the hospital did not include information in its report about why that happened, he said. It also said someone wrote over the proper dose in the chart with the erroneous dose, but did not identify who altered the chart, or even who was interviewed as part of the investigation, Zimmermann said.
“Often times that’s the first thing the patient is looking for — a clear picture of what happened,” he said. “The information can vary by hospital and by who did the investigation. A family can certainly ask for more detail. Whether that’s provided, that’s going to depend on the decision makers at the institution.”
It’s rare to see a report that identifies specific caregivers and exactly what they did wrong, Zimmermann said. That’s in part because of the state’s so-called peer review law, which allows hospitals to keep confidential certain aspects of internal investigations into mistakes.
Read the full Boston Globe article here to learn much more: When Something Medically Goes Wrong.