Holding Healthcare Providers Accountable Makes Us All Safer
Sadly, medical mistakes occur every single day. They often don’t make the news because the mistake is caught or corrected in time before an injury occurs. The problem lies when medical mistakes result in death or serious injuries. When the negligent party is held accountable for these serious mistakes, the healthcare industry as a whole becomes safer for us all. Practitioners pay closer attention when they are held accountable for to their actions, and thus are less likely to administer the wrong medication, operate on the wrong body part, misdiagnose or fail to diagnose an illness, just to name a few.
Criminal Charges for a Medical Mistake
In one recent example, a former nurse was convicted for abuse and reckless homicide for administering an incorrect medication. The nurse, who worked for Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, TN, was supposed to give a patient a dose of Versed, a drug meant to alleviate anxiety, prior to an imaging scan. However, she gave the patient vecuronium instead. Vecuronium is a paralytic often used during anesthesia. The patient died the next day.
Safety Protocols Weren’t Used
Vanderbilt University Medical Center had safety protocols in place. The nurse overrode them, which is why she was criminally convicted. In most cases, bar code scanners are used to ensure that the correct medication is dispensed. The bar code on the dispensed medication and on the patient’s wrist band must be scanned before the medication is given. Medication dispensing software is used in some hospitals where pharmacies are busy and medication is needed immediately. The machines are also primarily used to prevent dispensing errors. In the case of the Vanderbilt nurse, she purposely overrode the safety protocols that were brought to her attention via the medication dispensing system.
Some blame medical errors on hospitals’ fast-paced environments. Nurses balance many tasks at once and must move quickly, however, there is absolutely no excuse for the deliberate action to override safety protocols and risk patient harm. Caution and attention to detail must be of primary importance, no matter what!
Medical Mistakes Lead to Additional Protocols
Many of the current safety protocols implemented by hospitals are the direct result of healthcare providers and healthcare systems being held accountable for negligent actions, such as the Vanderbilt case. A mistake was made, and administrators stepped in to ensure that it would never happen again. As a result, a patients must now repeatedly verify their name and date of birth to the medical professionals dispensing medication and bar codes must be scanned nd verified prior to medication dispensing.
Medical mistakes have devastating damaging consequences, such as death or serious injury or long-term health issues. Taking legal action will only make the medical field safer. If you or a family member was injured as a result of medical negligence, Call me, I’ll be there for you and I’ll Make Them Pay!®
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