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What did happen?

After a medical malpractice incident, those who have been injured, or in the worst cases, died, should be owed a simple explanation. One doctor, who is also a lawyer, suggests that if patients are owed information regarding what could happen during a procedure or treatment in order for informed consent to be "informed," should they not receive an explanation of what did actually happen when something goes wrong?

Hospitals and doctors often impose a "wall of silence" around any botched procedure in a misguided fear that if they admit to wrongdoing, it will impose greater liability. This is maddening to patients and their families. Among those who have suffered an incident of malpractice, the strongest impulse is to find out what happened and to help prevent others from suffering a similar fate.

When a patient dies due to medical negligence, the patient's family knows no amount of money will bring their loved one back to life. They get that. So the greatest consolation they can receive is knowing that that death was not pointless and random.

If they know the hospital or doctors have instituted systemic changes that reform how things were done and will prevent a reoccurrence of the negligence that led to their loved one's death, that death is given meaning. And no one wants to feel that their mother, father or child's death was meaningless.

One way to do this is by what is known as a communication-and-resolution program (CRP). This can help hospitals change their perspective on medical errors, by making the focus communicating with the patients and their families and resolving the incident by providing compensation when appropriate but also by examining what happened and learning from it to prevent future incidents.

When an aircraft crashes, the National Transportation Safety Board begins an investigation that examines every element of the crash, from the pilot's experience and behavior to the airplane's maintenance history and the weather. All of this is done to discover what when wrong and then develop methods to prevent it from reoccurring. This level of rigor and honesty needs to be present in investigations of medical malpractice.

When a patient is injured or killed by malpractice, it is in the hospital's interest to understand what happened and that "it is counterproductive to defend care that no one is proud of."

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