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Could closed medical malpractice cases prevent more malpractice?

Learning from our mistakes is sometimes easier said than done. A medical malpractice lawyer out of another state wants all health professionals to learn from other medical professionals' mistakes. Is it doable?

It seems like an obvious solution. If hospitals want to avoid cases of negligence on their floors, they should look at other incidents of malpractice and evaluate how such incidents could have been prevented. A roadblock to such learning is that past medical malpractice cases are closed.

A closed case means that the public generally can't get its hands on all of the many details that went into the case. The lawyer wants the information from those cases to become available and open to the medical industry for educational purposes. Names of people and places involved would be made confidential. Those details aren't important in regards to what causes and what could prevent a hospital error anyway.

Critics of the malpractice prevention effort fear that confidentiality could still easily be compromised. Also, in order for the information to be valuable and effective for hospitals looking to provide the best possible care, any legal opinion or spin would have to be separated from the relevant, undisputed facts of the cases.

Supporters of this proposal see the idea as a way to take the vast research that attorneys already put into their cases and to further use that not within the courtrooms but on hospital floors. It would be a sort of team effort to try to improve patient safety by making better health professionals.

Source: Reuters, "Tapping medical malpractice cases for safety lessons," Terry Baynes, April 11, 2013

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