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In Louisiana, reporting medical negligence may help others

It is a sad truth that in many hospitals in Louisiana, hospital negligence has sometimes led to patient death. These cases of wrongful death do not always get the attention they should because the hospitals do not want them known and sometimes because the surviving family members are too traumatized to discuss them.

In a recent review performed by the US Department of Health and Human Services inspector general, it was found that in just one month, around 134,000 Medicare patients were harmed from medical malpractice. However, many of these victims do not report the problems or do not know how to. This is made worse by the fact that hospitals will report less than 1 percent of harmful events that occur. Problems with state reporting systems have also contributed to the ongoing uncertainty regarding medical errors.

However, if these problems are not reported and properly documented for review, then a fatal mistake may be repeated. For this reason, it is often beneficial for the victim to report the alleged medical malpractice or in the unfortunate case that a family member is the victim of a wrongful death. Not only can a lawsuit help injured parties and their family obtain financial compensation, it may also help to highlight medical errors and help create effective change.

One of the most difficult hurdles to overcome for a wrongful death lawsuit is overcoming the Physician-Patient privilege. Just because a patient dies does not mean that the privilege is eliminated. The first step is often that a representative of the decedent must be appointed in order to procure the medical records. Once a family member makes it clear that they are seeking the medical records for litigations, this is often enough to procure them and commence the wrongful death lawsuit.

The loss of a loved one is never easy to deal with. If it is caused by someone else's negligence, it just makes it that much more unbearable - but a civil lawsuit may ease at least some of the burden felt by providing financial assistance related to the unfortunate situation.

Source: Propublica.org, "Why Patients Don't Report Medical Errors," Marshall Allen, Sept. 25, 2012

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