Medical errors can lead to a number of issues, including birth injuries such as brachial plexus injuries or maternal death.
If you believe that you or a loved one has been the victim of a medical error, you may wonder what requirements doctors have for reporting their mistakes and what options you have for reporting possible medical malpractice.
Unfortunately, the answer is complicated, and there may not even be reporting requirements for so-called minor medical errors.
A Question Of Medical Ethics
The medical code of ethics requires that doctors and other medical professionals do no harm. When they make an error, they have an ethical obligation to inform the patient of the error and to report the error to, at the very least, the administrators of the hospital or facility where they practice. Failing to do so could be considered a violation of their professional ethics.
Facility-Specific Error Reporting Guidelines
Hospitals and other medical facilities in Ohio may have their own guidelines for reporting errors. Guidelines may outline specific processes for doctors to self-report errors, for nurses or other parties to report errors they witnessed, or to address errors reported by patients or other parties to the facility. The process may begin with verbal reporting or reporting by document and may culminate in disciplinary action for the doctor who made the error.
Guidelines may vary between facilities and may not be visible to patients. Facility guidelines should be in compliance with state law.
Ohio State Law On Medical Error Reporting
Rule 4731-15-01 of the Ohio Administrative Code details reporting requirements for licensed doctors and other medical professionals. While this rule requires, with some exceptions, reporting of errors to the licensing board, it does not outline a specific process for reporting for private medical facilities. However, the Ohio Administrative Code does dictate a peer review and hearing process in the event of complaints of errors at state university hospitals and medical facilities.
The law also says that if a medical facility takes formal disciplinary action against a medial provider, the facility must report this to the licensing board within a certain time period. Here again, there are some exceptions to this rule.
Further, under Ohio law, adverse events or unexpected complications during surgery or other procedures should trigger a quality assessment and performance improvement plan.
Do Negligent Doctors Follow Reporting Requirements?
Unfortunately, doctors may fear that reporting an error may cause them public embarrassment or, at worst, endanger their career. For this reason, doctors who make mistakes may not report their errors to the facility, the state medical board or any other party, and may even attempt to cover up the errors.
According to one study, “Error-reporting mechanisms may capture only a fraction of actual errors.”
Your Options For Reporting A Suspected Medical Error
If you believe your doctor has made a medical error, there are several places where you can make a report:
- Directly to the doctor
- The doctor’s supervisor
- Administration of the hospital or medical facility where the error took place
- The Ohio Department of Health’s complaint hotline: 800.342.0553
- The State Medical Board Of Ohio
If the suspected medical error has led to an injury or the death of a loved one, you can contact an attorney at The Lancione Law Firm for a free case evaluation. We will work to see that the negligent doctor is held accountable, and that you and your family get justice and fair compensation.