What is the Impact of the California Hospital Penalty Program?
Fines exist as an incentive for individuals and groups to practice safe, responsible, and in certain cases, simply compliant behavior. Think about the fees and fines you face: if your checking account's balance drops below a certain dollar amount, your bank may impose a service fee on it. If you commit a parking violation, the municipality where the violation occurred may impose a fine on you with a traffic ticket. Fines exist to promote safety and compliance among government and corporate entities as well. One example of this is California's Hospital Penalty Program. Established in 2007, the program aims to reduce preventable medical errors in California hospitals by imposing fines on hospitals where errors that cause patient injuries and deaths occur. Alongside these penalties, negligent hospitals face negative publicity through the program's publicized citations. The program has not had much success in reducing the number of medical malpractice claims filed in California, though some argue that it has had success by requiring hospitals to pay closer attention to mistakes that occur in their wards and encouraging them to take action to prevent mistakes. If you or a loved one have been a victim of medical malpractice, educate yourself about your rights as a victim and how you can seek monetary compensation for your damages through a California medical malpractice claim.California Medical Malpractice Statistics at a Glance
Since the program was launched in 2007, 192 hospitals have been cited for acts of medical negligence. The fines hospitals face for negligent acts can be as high as $125,000 per infraction and over the course of the program's existence, the state of California has sought $17 million in fines from allegedly negligent hospitals.
A few notable medical malpractice statistics include:
- From 2007 to 2016, 11,749 medical errors were reported in California;
- 847 of these reports were made for decubitus ulcers, also known as bedsores;
- Only 27 states require hospitals to report their recorded medical errors to state authorities; and
- California is the only state that publicizes “immediate jeopardy incidents,” which are errors that cause serious injury or death to the patient.
In 2016, researchers at Johns Hopkins University published a study that showed medical error as the third leading cause of death in the United States, behind only cancer and heart disease. It is possible for survivors of a medical malpractice victim to seek compensation for the damages associated with the death through a wrongful death claim.Protect yourself from Medical Malpractice
Although you cannot prevent medical errors, you can take steps to reduce your chance of suffering an injury because of an oversight or mistake by your doctor or another healthcare provider. One way to do this is to educate yourself completely about your condition, your treatment options, and how your treatment may be affected by other existing conditions you face so you can discuss these with your doctor. Sometimes, a patient suffers because his or her doctor recommends a treatment plan that is actually harmful for him or her due to a coexisting condition.
Other ways to reduce your chance of suffering from malpractice include:
- Bring a friend or loved one to each appointment who can take notes and advocate for you if you cannot advocate for yourself. His or her notes are documentation to which you can refer when completing your treatment or assembling evidence to support a malpractice claim;
- Stay up to date with current treatment standards for your condition;
- If you are not making the progress you should make with your recovery, speak with your doctor about it;
- Consider keeping an electronic medical record so your record is easily accessible to healthcare providers at all times; and
- Research doctors and hospitals before choosing to work with them. If a particular physician or hospital has a history of malpractice, reconsider seeking treatment from them.
If you have suffered from an injury or a worsened medical condition because of a healthcare provider's negligence, you could be entitled to recover compensation for your damages through a medical malpractice claim. To learn more, schedule your initial consultation with a member of our team of experienced San Jose medical malpractice lawyers at Corsiglia, McMahon, & Allard, L.L.P. We proudly serve clients in the Bay Area, San Mateo County, Alameda County, San Benito County, Monterey County, and Santa Clara County.