One of every 10 patients admitted to a hospital suffers a preventable medical mistake. This rate of medical malpractice is shockingly high. Injuries from these mistakes in hospitals can lead to severe disability or death including additional hospitalization, infections, lost income, and increased medical expense. In response to this high rate of malpractice and substandard care in hospitals, consumer groups have been founded and developed to promote patient safety.
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A number of these patient advocacy groups were founded by people who were themselves harmed by medical mistakes in hospitals. Often families who have had a loved one killed or severely injured by the health care system will devote some of the money they receive from a medical malpractice lawsuit or settlement to help prevent such hospital and medical errors in the future. Our firm – Shapiro & Appleton& Duffan – in Virginia are all members of American Association for Justice (formally the American Trial Lawyers Association).
We strongly support such organizations which serve a great purpose in our justice system of not only deterring bad conduct by doctors and hospitals, but also helping to educate medical professionals and consumers about how to improve the system. One of the patient advocacy groups was started by a family whose daughter died after medical mistakes. The family is now helping others through the Josie King Foundation and has a website called www.josieking.org. This 18 month old girl was killed by errors that occurred at John’s Hopkins Children Center in Baltimore, Maryland (MD). John’s Hopkins is normally thought of as one of the best medical facilities in the country. At first, she was angry at the hospital but the mother turned the financial settlement she received from the wrongful death claim into a way of helping the very organization which took her daughter’s life.
The Josie King Foundation is now paying for health and safety programs at Johns Hopkins and other hospitals. This charitable foundation is helping advise medical and legal experts on avoiding medical malpractice and providing resources to hospitals seeking to improve safety.
The Josie King Foundation is not alone in this patient safety movement led by the very families of those hurt by medical errors. Another medical safety project was started by a family whose son ended up with severe brain damage as a result of neonatal jaundice being untreated. Another family member died after a cancer diagnosis was not communicated causing a delay in treatment and death. The folks who suffered these two tragedies are involved with a group called Consumers Advancing Patient Safety.
Knowing about malpractice cases from the many cases our firm has litigated for families over the years, I am impressed with these brave families. Someone that is able to take a tragedy and turn it into a cause for good is always inspiring. Many times the public is not aware of how many people with medical malpractice lawsuits and other injury claims will take the money they receive from the insurance company and do good deeds for others.