A horrific incident in a Georgia hospital made national news when a baby was decapitated during the delivery process. What made the incident even worse is that numerous people – including nurses and doctors – seem to have colluded in a cover-up. The parents were actively prevented from holding their infant and the baby’s injuries were disguised when the body was shown.
Unfortunately, hospitals have a lot of reasons to keep from disclosing errors to patients and the public. While it’s important to note that the healthcare landscape varies widely and not all hospitals operate in the same way, here are some common reasons why hospitals try to hide mistakes:
They’re worried about their reputations and potential losses
Hospitals are concerned about maintaining their reputation and the trust of their patients. Admitting to errors could potentially damage their image, leading to a loss of confidence from patients and the community.
Regulatory and accreditation standards may also be an issue. These standards can sometimes be perceived as punitive, which means that administrators may even discourage the open reporting of errors. Hospitals often prefer to address errors internally through quality improvement initiatives and performance reviews rather than disclosing them publicly for just this reason.
Finally, hospitals are notoriously worried about their bottom lines. If there’s a legitimate concern that a patient may have a valid legal claim, the potential financial liability can incentivize hospitals to keep any errors under wraps.
Ultimately, this can create a culture of silence around errors, making it difficult for individual medical providers to step forward and take responsibility for mistakes. Doctors and nurses are understandably reluctant to take accountability for their mistakes when it may mean losing their jobs – and others who witness mistakes may be afraid to speak up for the same reason. That can directly encourage the sort of group behavior that’s alleged in the situation mentioned above.
It can be very hard for patients to know when a loved one’s condition has deteriorated due to unavoidable circumstances or as a result of medical errors. This is just one reason why it’s important to rely on experienced legal guidance to help uncover the truth.