As many in the health care industry know full well, medical mistakes can happen at any time. This isn’t necessarily something that can always be prevented, because while there are many best practices in the sector as a whole, the unfortunate truth remains that accidents happen. And regrettably, these mistakes can often result in costly, trying medical malpractice cases, against which health care workers of all stripes will need to be properly insured.
For instance, data aggregated by the provincial government suggests that in 2014 and 2015, medical malpractice in Nova Scotia alone resulted in 126 cases of disability or worse out of a total 205 incidents, according to a report from the CBC. The Serious Reportable Events database has been up and running in the province since the start of 2014, and already seems to have gotten better at determining when these unfortunate incidents take place. The number of total events reported in last year (128 in all) represented an increase of 66 per cent from the 77 reported in the program’s first year.
“The goal is to have the safest possible system you can. Knowing about events is fundamental to that,” Catherine Gaulton, vice-president of quality and system performance for the Nova Scotia Health Authority, told the news organization. “We weren’t seeing a trend of, you know, at a particular location or as a particular team. It really is one of those system problems where we need to work on a system response with our teams.”
How did they happen?
More than 85 per cent of all incidents could be put into one of six categories, the report said. The largest portion of that number (61 incidents) were the result of bedsores, while 14 were surgical patients who were later found to have foreign objects left inside them. Another 13 suffered greatly as a result of their medical issues having been misdiagnosed, and the same number saw serious health issues or worse that came as a result of problems with “care management.”
Other issues to keep in mind
In all, the database has 35 possible categories into which medical missteps and accidents can be put, but through the end of 2015 only 15 had actually had a incident, the report said. Interestingly, this also comes with the acknowledgement that not all these issues are necessarily preventable, with bedsores being a good example of things that are unfortunate but will happen on occasion.
Meanwhile, medical professionals also acknowledge that in general, there are people who are at higher risk for serious injury, illness, or worse as a result of these mistakes in general, the report said. While that doesn’t excuse the problems that came about as a result of medical missteps, it must be acknowledged that many patients tend to be older and more frail than many doctors or nurses have dealt with in the past.
Consequently, it’s important for all health care workers to make sure their medical malpractice insurance is in place and robust enough to meet their needs. Continuing to check in on this type of coverage on a regular basis is likewise important, as needs can change over time.