Hospital Negligence at Academic Medical Centers

February 1, 2020 | Uncategorized | By Personal Injury Legal Directory | 0 Comments

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Many of America’s academic medical centers enjoy top rankings and want great reputations for patient outcomes. In some respects, these accolades are deserved. However, a hospital negligence lawyer will tell you that there is a dark side to academic medicine — hospital negligence.  

There are several major problems in academic medical centers that lead to patient harm as a result of physician or nursing negligence. First, in teaching hospitals, young doctors-in-training, (called interns, residents, or fellows, depending on the year of their training) are actively involved in patient care. While these doctors-in-training are under the supervision of experienced attending physicians, they make mistakes due to inexperience and lack of training. These doctors-in-training are often overworked and overtired. In addition, they often function as the sole decision maker standing between early diagnosis and a medical catastrophe. These young doctors are especially prone to mistakes at the beginning of the training year, which typically begins on July 1. At that time, new interns arrive on the hospital floor for the very first time. In addition, last year’s interns become second year residents, while last year’s second year residents become senior residents who have additional decision-making responsibilities.

Increased Risk

The risk of a medical mistake and hospital negligence caused by an inexperienced doctor-in-training is increased on weekends, evenings, and holidays when many of the attending physicians are scarce. These young doctors are often afraid to contact a doctor to help during these off-hours, or too prideful to do so. In addition, due to their inexperience, they may not recognize when a serious problem is brewing.  

Lack of Continuity

Another institutional problem in academic medical centers is the lack of continuity of care.  These major medical centers often have teams of physicians composed of an attending physician and multiple doctors-in-training. These teams may care for a patient during one shift, but be replaced by another team that is not familiar with the patient during the next shift. Miscommunication between teams can lead to disaster. Medical mistakes and medical errors are common when communication breaks down.

Experimental Purposes

Another source of hospital negligence in major medical centers arises from new technology and medicine that is being used by academic physicians for experimental purposes. Many hospitals tout new technologies like atrial fibrillation ablation and da Vinci robotic surgery, that never quite measure up over time. Likewise, the electronic medical record itself has been directly responsible for patient harm. Frequently, profitable new medical devices and medicine are used before they are fully proven to be safe and effective.  

Understaffing at Hospitals

Finally, another source of academic hospital negligence comes from the failure to have an adequate nursing staff. Experienced nurses are the first line of protection for patients. When they are overworked due to understaffing, experienced nurses often drop out of the workforce. Gainfully employed nurses are asked to do more than they possibly can during their shift. In either case, understaffing leads directly to patient harm. This is also a source of hospital negligence.  

Contact an Attorney

If you have been harmed by hospital negligence from a negligent intern, a negligent resident or a negligent nurse, you should contact an experienced medical malpractice lawyer, like a medical malpractice lawyer in Cleveland, OH, for advice.  

Thanks to Mishkind Kulwicki Law for their insight into hospital negligence at academic medical centers.