Hospitals Violate Law on Reporting Errors

Florida hospitals are routinely violating a state law that requires them to report serious errors, according to a study on patient safety.

“Code 15″ is the designation for the most serious errors in patient care which occur in our hospitals. These Code 15 errors are so dangerous that they must be reported by the hospital within 15 days to the state of Florida. This new study reports that’s more than 80 percent of potentially life-threatening errors in a one-year’s sample were NEVER reported to to the state. In fact, those hospitals that did admit that Code 15 medical errors occurred, usually submitted reports that provided too little information to be helpful.

By reviewing hospital billing records for two kinds of treatment that would be necessary ONLY if an error caused a patient harm, the researchers demonstrated that more than 5,000 Code 15 events each year are not reported. One of the treatments was an operation conducted to retrieve an object, such as a towel or sponge, inadvertently left behind during surgery. The other kind of treatment was for a post-operative hip fracture. Patients who suffer a hip fracture while recuperating from surgery may have been left unattended and permitted to fall while in the hospital.

After comparing the hospital billing records with the reported Code 15s, the study found the retrieval for an object left behind was reported to authorities in 15 of 85 cases, or 18 percent of the time. For the hip fractures, there were three reports in 26 events, or 12 percent.

At Florida Trial MD, we have represented patients who suffered from these very occurrences. Our clients have included those who following surgery were on pain medications, became disoriented, tried to get out of bed and the hospital staff was aware of the problem and risk of falling. Yet, the hospital failed to take steps to protect the patient from falling.

When the fall occurs and the patient breaks a leg or hip, the hospital involved is not eager to admit responsibility. We have had hospitals try to blame patients when the hospital failed to answer call bells or provide a sitter for a disoriented patient.

Obviously the hospitals are more concerned with protecting themselves than their patients. The purpose of reporting Code 15 errors to the state is to monitor patient safety and hold hospitals accountable for what goes on in their facility. It is critical that the state of Florida has this information. Unfortunately, hospitals continue to cover up serious, preventable medical malpractice occurring to their patients. This cloak of secrecy continues because the hospitals powerful lobby groups prevent the passage of meaningful laws to protect consumers.

We will continue to share what is happening in our hospitals. You and your family deserve to know. If you have any questions, please contact us online or call us at 407-244-1212.

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