A recent study published highlights just how few US medical schools report teaching patient safety and quality; specifically, that many medical students do not have what it takes to speak up when they see or experience a medical error or deviation from best practices. Of those surveyed, 90 percent reported observing “adverse events,” while only 51 percent indicated that they were comfortable in reporting these events to a supervisor.

Medical school training not only fails to train students about the acquired art, skills, and subtleties of practicing medicine, but how to recognize adverse clinical events and report them appropriately. In fact, earlier studies revealed that exposing trainees to adverse clinical events ended up having a negative effect on competency and actually decreased the likelihood of both reporting medical errors and adopting safety practices. Clearly, something more needs to be done in US medical schools to prevent doctors who make–and fail to recognize–serious errors.

“Lead by Example”

It is time for US medical schools to officially mandate patient safety curriculum which promotes learning about recognizing and reporting adverse events. This can help entrench students in the philosophy that recognizing and reporting error is important such that it becomes almost second-nature by the time they reach their postgraduate years. Key in this equation are educators candidly discussing relevant situations and providing students with an opportunity to learn from them.

Lack of Reporting Errors Affects Litigation

The fact that doctors and other healthcare professionals do not necessarily recognize and/or report medical errors has had its effect on the statute of limitations surrounding medical malpractice lawsuits. Specifically, the discovery rule allows victims to file a medical malpractice claims after the statute of limitations has expired in some circumstances if they were unaware that medical negligence occurred and/or that they could potentially sue for it.

For example:

If a patient receives improper care in 2009 and an opinion is received in 2011 that doctors were negligent in treating the patient, leading to that patient’s death;

Then another opinion indicating there was negligence is received in 2013 leading to the filing of a medical malpractice claim three years after the patient died, past the permitted deadline, the discovery rule arguably applies in that the statute of limitations did not begin until the family member knew or reasonably should have known of the defendant’s negligence (i.e. when they received the opinion nearly two years after the patient’s death).

Medical Error Attorneys

As this study indicates, there are many hurdles involved in training US medical students to recognize and report errors. This leads to countless errors and complications each year. As a result, sometimes a simple injury can turn into something more severe or even result in wrongful death when it comes to medical errors.

If you or a loved one has been injured or killed as the result of a medical error, you may be entitled to compensation. At Dana & Dana, our interest is fighting for victims of these errors. We have a history of helping victims of medical malpractice in RI and other acts of medical negligence. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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