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Hospitals use the “hide, deny and defend” approach to hide medical errors and negligent acts by their employees. “Hide, deny and defend” has had a significant impact on patient safety. When protecting the hospital is the only goal, poor practices are excused and justified, and patients remain at risk of similar injuries or death.

Hospitals must be open to change, and if you think you or your loved ones were injured or killed by medical errors, you have a right to know what happened.

Hospitals also try to compartmentalize, or separate liability to hide who is ultimately responsible for the mistake. The simple truth is, when you are in the care of the hospital, everyone from the CEO, to the newest health care practitioner is responsible for your health.

The Joint Commission on Health Care Accreditation ("The Joint Commission"), inspects almost all Hospitals for safety and has an entire section dedicated to Patient Safety Systems. Part of the Patient Safety Systems section explains:

The ultimate purpose of The Joint Commission’s accreditation process is to enhance quality of care and patient safety. Each requirement or standard, the survey process, the Sentinel Event Policy, and other Joint Commission initiatives are designed to help organizations reduce variation, reduce risk, and improve quality. Hospitals should have an integrated approach to patient safety so that high levels of safe patient care can be provided for every patient in every care setting and service.

Hospitals are complex environments that depend on strong leadership to support an integrated patient safety system that includes the following:

  • Safety culture

  • Validated methods to improve processes and systems

  • Standardized ways for interdisciplinary teams to communicate and collaborate

  • Safely integrated technologies

In an integrated patient safety system, staff and leaders work together to eliminate complacency, promote collective mindfulness, treat each other with respect and compassion, and learn from their patient safety events, including close calls and other system failures that have not yet led to patient harm.

Put differently, safety does not rest on the shoulders of doctors and nurses alone. Too often, doctors and nurses are forced to work within a lousy hospital system that impairs their ability to do the best they can for a patient. Hospital management and leadership often create a system that contributes to patient injury and death. Put another way, it can be impossible for even an excellent employee to work within a "bad system."

For example, the attached employee orientation manual from St. Vincent's Hospital correctly states:

Everyone has a role in making health care safe-physicians, healthcare workers, nurses, and technicians. Healthcare organizations across the country are working to make healthcare safety a priority. You play a vital role in making your patient's care safe by becoming an active, involved and informed member of the healthcare team.

An Institute of Medicine (IOM) report has identified the occurrence of medical errors as a serious problem in the healthcare system. The IOM recommends, among other things, that a concerted effort is made to improve the public's awareness of the problem.

See, St. Vincent's Orientation Manual (May be necessary to cut and paste if link is not active) -

If you or a loved one are "seriously injured" or suffer death in the hospital, you must demand to understand what happened and demand explanations from not only the doctors, and nurses, but ALSO FROM HOSPITAL MANAGEMENT AND LEADERSHIP!

Remember, it is the community which determines what are the safest and best practices in the community. That means me, and you! Demand and Expect better from your local Hospitals.