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Nurse claims surgical mistakes hidden within healthcare system

For Providence residents who have little contact with the healthcare providers outside their regular doctor, it can be difficult to select a surgeon or other medical specialist. Undoubtedly they have questions regarding a surgeon's success rate, the quality of their work, and the number of surgical errors that professional has made. For the answers they turn to the person that they trust the most, which is usually their doctor or nurse.

However, one nurse claims that often nurses and other medical professionals are unable to reveal the surgical mistakes a well-known surgeon may have made. She says that the reason for this is because the existing healthcare culture promotes the belief that doctors and nurses are perfect beings. This cultural facet has created a code of secrecy, encouraging hospitals and staff to cover up mistakes instead of admitting them.

Even the nurse admits to falling under this code when asked by a patient for a surgeon recommendation. Her opinion is that this secrecy is the reason for the death of 22 patients each hour in a hospital setting. When hospitals do find themselves the target of a lawsuit for fatal surgical errors or surgical malpractice, she says they keep the public from finding out by having the settlement record sealed.

This opinion certainly presents a lot of food for thought. Providence residents may want to look a little deeper into the background of a surgeon or medical specialist before readily accepting the word of another healthcare provider. If patients feel that they may have been the victim of a surgery mistake, they can talk to an attorney experienced with these kinds of cases.

Source: The Seattle Times, "Op-ed: The culture of health-care secrecy harms patients," Kathleen Bartholomew, Dec. 26, 2012

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