According to a survey conducted by the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses, and published as “The Silent Treatment: Why Safety Tools and Checklists Aren’t Enough to Save Lives,” many potential causes of medical errors go unreported because nurses simply don’t speak up. About 85% of nurses surveyed said that a safety tool such as checklists or handoff protocols, warned them of a potential problem that might have been missed and could lead to a medical error and patient injury. However, more than half (58%) of these nurses did not speak up to resolve the problem before it could potentially lead to patient injury.

The survey showed that certain “undiscussable” issues prevented nurses from effectively communicating with one another, even when a patient’s life could potentially hang in the balance. More than 80% of nurses surveyed had concerns about dangerous shortcuts, incompetence, or disrespect among their colleagues.

These issues often led to dangerous medical errors. More than half said they knew of instances where shortcuts led to near misses or patient injury, and about the same number said disrespect prevented them from getting others to respect their professional opinion. More than a third said a colleague’s incompetence led to near misses or patient injury. However, only 17% of nurses confronted colleagues about shortcuts, 16% about disrespect, and only 11% about incompetence.

These numbers show that in many cases nurses are not doing an adequate job of working with colleagues to ensure patient safety. This is one of the many reasons that medical malpractice lawsuits serve the public good by calling attention to what nurses cannot: poor communication, incompetence, and dangerous shortcuts that lead to patient injury.

If you have been hurt by a medical error, your lawsuit can do more than compensate you for your injury, it can help expose a hospital culture where incompetent professionals are sheltered and dangerous shortcuts are standard operating procedure. To learn whether you have a case, please contact the personal injury lawyers of Robert W. Kerpsack, CO, LPA today for a free initial consultation.