According to a 2018 research study by Johns Hopkins, over 250,000 patients in the United States die from medical errors every year, and millions more are injured. After cancer and heart disease, medical mistakes constitute the third-largest cause of death in the U.S.
Hospitals often fail to report incidents involving medical negligence, which put the patients in harm’s way. When they cover up medical malpractice, the victim and their family members are deprived of their right to know what really happened to their loved ones and to seek damages.
Worse still, these cover-ups discourage them from identifying and correcting the faults within the hospital system, which means the medical professionals and hospital administrators have little motivation to learn from their errors. Here are some of the ways that hospitals and other health practices cover up medical malpractice:
The Medical Staff Will Simply Not Inform You of the Facts
When you visit a hospital for treatment, you are trusting the doctors with your life and placing your 100% confidence in the integrity and competence of that institution. Since you most likely have none or very little professional knowledge about medical science, you are completely at the mercy of the doctors and dependent on their judgment.
The worst thing that can happen is when the doctor or the hospital exploits your trust and fails to tell you the real facts.
The typical situation that occurs with medical errors is this. Your loved one who is admitted to the hospital has suddenly experienced significant complications, or their condition has deteriorated overnight. You keep asking the doctors and the staff about why or how it happened, but they will simply hide the truth and are not sincere about what really took place.
There is no way for you to know that a medical error occurred in the operating room, or a misdiagnosis had led to a wrong treatment, or a wrong medication was administered. Your loved one may suffer lasting damage, but you do not find out that it happened because of preventable medical errors.
The Hospital will not Provide You with Full Medical Records
If medical negligence has taken place, to cover up the errors, the hospital administration will selectively skip some of the crucial entries in the patient’s medical chart or fail to include all the copies of the medical records.
This will ensure that you have no way to notice that something went wrong during the diagnosis or treatment even if you review the medical records carefully later on.
Hospital administrators know from experience that an average patient or their family members have no way to know if a few vital pages are missing from the medical records, and what things to look for to ensure that the records are complete.
The Doctors will Falsify the Medical Records
To cover up an obvious medical error, the doctors, support teams, or administrative staff may destroy the original medical records and replace them with false ones. Or, they may re-write or change or add to the record to falsify its meaning. This happens all too often – even by people who are supposed to be completely honest and have taken certain oaths that are required to reach their level of professional expertise.
According to medical ethics, if any changes are made to the medical records, the original pages should also be retained along with the new ones. But there are countless medical malpractice cases where doctors and hospitals will be tempted to cover up their negligence.
A Conspiracy of Silence
One of the common behaviors on part of the doctors, nurses, and hospital administrators is that when a patient dies or gets seriously injured due to medical negligence, individuals who were not directly involved in the treatment will also maintain silence and attempt to cover up the obvious errors committed by their colleagues. They will all unite in the defense of their common interests.
In many cases, this “conspiracy of silence” occurs because the hospital management has created an environment where people fear for their jobs. If there are precedents where medical team members have been fired because they raised concerns about patient safety, others will be reluctant to speak in the future.
When the hospitals and doctors put their own interests above those of the patient and cover up medical errors, it is often difficult to hold them accountable. Only experienced medical malpractice attorneys who not only understand the law but also have insights into how the hospital’s team might think or act in a given situation will be able to identify and establish this type of medical negligence.
Speak to a Knowledgeable Alabama Medical Malpractice Lawyer Today
If you or someone you love has suffered due to the negligence of a medical professional, we are here to help. Schedule a free consultation with a seasoned attorney at the Alsobrook Law Group. Call 334.737.3718 or message us through our online contact form to schedule a free consultation.