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When Hospitals Make Mistakes

When a hospital or its staff makes a mistake and a patient is injured as a result, it may be really difficult to decide what the next steps should be to make the patient whole again. Largely, medical malpractice in the hospital can be difficult to litigate because hospitals are not inclined to reveal the mistakes that were made, and are secretive rather than transparent. This is because hospitals want to avoid litigation as much as possible.

The Malpractice Process

When something goes wrong, hospital staff will review the events in private but the conversations are generally privileged with little to no access of information by the injured patient. Compensation is generally the end result when the injured patient or his/her family are able to collect enough evidence and testimony to support their claim of negligence and/or malpractice. If the hospital’s lawyers see that there is compelling evidence to support the claim, they will most likely settle rather than go through trial.

The Candor Program

Many hospitals, however, are unhappy with the status quo and alongside a new federal government initiative proposal, the way in which medical malpractice lawsuits and settlements work may change completely. The program, known as Communication and Optimal Resolution (colloquially “Candor,”) has been put into place by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) and at the center of its initiative, has a more robust scrutiny policy, and a more transparent and open dialogue with patients, in particular victims.

How the Candor Program Works

Under the Candor program, once an incident occurs where a harm to a patient has been identified, hospital staff, who have been trained through the Candor program, must tell the victim(s) and his/her family what occurred within one hour. Trained hospital staff then begin the investigation, which usually is concluded within 2 months, reviewing reports and interviewing those involved as to what happened. The hospital, during this investigation, stops billing the patient and his/her family so that medical costs are not one more thing that the family must worry about. The findings of the investigation are presented to the victim and the victim’s family, tactics are discussed internally within the hospital to ensure that any mistakes are cited and a standard of care for the future is written to deal with the mistake, and if the findings turn up negligence, a settlement for financial compensation begins. Victims and their families are not precluded from suing if the settlement is found to be unfair.

The Advantages and Disadvantages to Candor

The program has many advantages and disadvantages in the realm of malpractice against hospitals. The advantage would be open and transparent proceedings where hospitals and staff can be honest about what happened and the mistakes that were made. Some of the disadvantages are the following:

  • Candor may allow hospitals to evade external investigations for criminal conduct;
  • Internal investigations may not be up to the same accountability standards that an external investigation from a third party may provide;
  • Candor may be selectively chosen by hospitals for some situations but not others, such as the cases that they expect to lose; and
  • Patients may not be told to bring an attorney to their settlement because it is not an “official” legal proceeding and may, unwittingly, get an unfair deal without proper advocacy.

Charles County, MD Personal Injury Lawyers that Fight for You

The Candor program is still in its infancy and has not been adopted by every hospital. If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of negligence or due to a breach in your doctor’s standard of care, you may have a medical malpractice claim. Please call the Law Office of Robert R. Castro at (301) 804-2312 to schedule a free initial consultation.

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