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.