Hospitals typically operate under an unofficial hierarchy of medical staff.
Surgeons and doctors are placed at the top of the pyramid, with nurses,
support staff, clerks, and orderlies down towards the bottom tiers. Many
wards promote this hierarchy as a beneficial system that creates and encourages
organization, structure, and respect within the hospital, much like a
military unit. The idea is that having everything in order makes it easier
to treat patients.
In reality, hospital hierarchies are likely causing serious patient harm
on a regular basis. When a nurse or support staff member sees an error
caused by a doctor or surgeon on the “higher” levels of the
hierarchy, speaking up can mean facing retaliation and repercussions.
Although employment law should protect whistleblowers from unjust retaliation
in the workplace, it is difficult to apply and uphold some of those legal
protections in hospitals where many worker interactions involve one or
more independent contractors.
There are also scenarios in which errors spotted by nurses are turned around
and blamed on the nurse. Doctors and surgeons may perpetuate the idea
that their own mistakes are extensions of a nurse’s inability to
support them properly throughout a surgery, diagnosis, or medical review.
In this circumstance, mentioning a problem to superiors can be directly
detrimental to a nurse’s own career.
Lack of Reporting Harms Patients
Every time a doctor or surgeon mistake is not reported, it goes uncorrected,
causing harm to that patient. But it also makes it far more likely that
the same doctor will make the same mistake again in the future, potentially
harming any number of new patients. When it comes down to it, hospital
hierarchies that discourage accountability are not good for patient safety,
and should be revised.
If you have been hurt due to a doctor’s mistake, you will need to
hold them accountable through your own legal actions. Rourke and Blumenthal
can help you file a claim against negligent physicians that seeks maximized
compensation. Call our
Columbus medical malpractice attorneys at
614.321.3212, schedule a
free consultation, and learn why we’re widely considered one of the best personal
injury law firms in Ohio.