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Increase in Malpractice Claims Related to COVID

There has been an increase in the number of medical malpractice claims related to COVID-19. Almost 5% of medical malpractice claims filed in the U.S. are related to the coronavirus. The healthcare industry has been pushing to limit liability related to COVID. However, at the same time, some doctors are failing to properly care for patients, putting them at risk of harm. 

Shielding Dangerous Doctors Does Not Help Patients

As we wrote about in October, there has been a significant drop in disciplinary measures taken against doctors for improper care during the COVID-19 outbreak. Some hospitals were even warning doctors, nurses, and medical staff to stay silent about dangerous conditions in the hospitals. Patients of family members in nursing homes have also faced a silent response after their loved ones were infected and died without letting the family know.

Many state lawmakers are listening to the insurance companies and healthcare industry in trying to limit liability for any possible negligence related to COVID. Some of these protections would even protect doctors from taking standard precautions, even if the doctor’s negligence caused a patient to become ill or die, as long as COVID was somehow involved.

However, putting up a shield to protect all doctors and hospitals does not improve patient care. In a commentary in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), the author looks at other approaches that may reduce the costs for doctors while improving patient care. 

Communicating With Patients After an Error Can Improve Care

The article, Another Medical Malpractice Crisis? Try Something Different, discusses some ways doctors, hospitals, and nursing homes are dealing with COVID-19 risks. Some organizations are getting patients to expressly assume risks before receiving care and others are asking for immunity through state legislation. 

In contrast, the University of Michigan Health System tried a different approach that resulted in lowering malpractice pressures. Instead of waiting for injury victims to file malpractice lawsuits, the healthcare system proactively identified negative patient outcomes and responded. This new approach, “resulted in quicker resolution of claims and decreases in lawsuits and costs.”

Instead of trying to deny any wrongdoing and fighting to protect doctors at all costs, the healthcare system identified problems after they happened. This allowed patients to be heard and provided a way to improve care immediately after the errors occurred, instead of waiting months or years. 

The traditional response to a malpractice injury or fatal error from hospitals or doctors is to deny any wrongdoing. The lack of communication and silence from the hospitals and healthcare organizations can make an injury or death more difficult for patients, families, and the healthcare providers. The lack of transparency over what happened can also prevent the organization from learning from the error to improve patient care. Communication and resolution programs (CPRs) offer “a more compassionate, patient-centered response that ultimately improves safety for patients in the future.” 

Do Not Delay in Calling a Medical Malpractice Lawyer

If the hospital, doctor, or healthcare organization is failing to answer your questions after a medical injury, call your medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible. If you were injured because of a medical mistake, talk to the experienced team at Gilman & Bedigian. Contact us today for a free consultation.


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