Photo Credit: 123RF Stock Photo[/caption] Hospitals are supposed to be places of care and treatment, and patients trust that a hospital will do everything it can to help them heal. Unfortunately, hospitals can and do make mistakes. When this happens, the hospital and doctor can be held liable for medical malpractice. In order to prevent medical malpractice and get the best medical treatment possible, patients often seek out the doctor best equipped to handle their type of medical condition. But while there are a number of ways that information can be found on a doctor’s track record – including referrals and second opinions – many times patients choose a hospital based on geography. In short, medical conditions that require a trip to the hospital often result in a patient choosing the hospital that is closest in proximity, especially in smaller communities in which there may only be one hospital in the area. When possible, however, patients often seek out information regarding a hospital to make a deliberate and informed decision. Unfortunately, when a hospital conceals information regarding pertinent patient information, the patient isn’t really making an informed decision after all. For instance, CNN News recently revealed that a hospital in Florida was concealing the information regarding patient death rate, with a devastating impact on a number of patients. From 2011 to 2013, St. Mary’s Medical Center performed 48 open heart surgeries on children and babies, and CNN independently determined that six infants died, and confirmed the deaths with parents of all six children. From those numbers, CNN calculated the death rate for open heart surgeries as 12.5% – more than three times the national average of 3.3% cited by the Society for Thoracic Surgeons. At least one patient told CNN that a doctor at St. Mary’s had affirmatively lied to her about the mortality rate at the hospital. Hospitals sometimes refuse to provide adequate information so that patients can make information decisions. St. Mary’s declined to provide requested information and CNN was only able to obtain the mortality rate information through a Freedom of Information Request. So what can patients do to decrease the chances of medical malpractice and ensure that they are getting accurate information? Patients are encouraged to get second opinions. According to the New York Times, second opinions can lead to significant changes in a patient’s diagnosis or in recommendations for treating a disease, particularly with respect to radiology images and biopsy pathology slides. As the article points out, some cancers, such as lymphomas and rare cancers of the thyroid and salivary glands, are difficult to diagnose correctly and have a high rate of inconclusivity or false results. Patients can also talk to other doctors about a hospital’s reputation. Talk to former patients of the doctor or hospital and inquire about their experience. Ask for specific information regarding success rate, as well as mortality rate and injury rate. If you suspect that you or a loved one was the victim of medical error, contact the Chicago medical malpractice lawyers at Steinberg, Goodman & Kalish to schedule a free consultation to discuss a possible legal claim. Source: Secret deaths: CNN finds high surgical death rate for children at a Florida hospital Steinberg Goodman & Kalish (www.sgklawyers.com) is dedicated to protecting victims and their families. We handle medical malpractice, product liability, personal injury, wrongful death, auto accidents, professional negligence, birth trauma, and railroad law matters. Contact us at (888) 325-7299 or (312) 445-9084.