How to Report Hospital Negligence

Опубликовал Admin
22-07-2021, 07:30
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Suffering negligent treatment in a hospital setting can be a tremendously upsetting thing. Unfortunately, in the US medical system, hospital negligence can be a tricky thing. While it is possible for hospitals to be held responsible for negligence, the process typically takes a lot of courage and persistence. Start with hospital administrators to see if you can get your issue resolved at that level. If the hospital administrators aren't willing to accommodate you, escalate your issue through state and federal levels. If nothing else works, talk to an attorney about filing a lawsuit.

Working with Hospital Administrators

  1. Create a written record of the negligence. Make your report as specific as possible so administrators will be able to properly address the issue. Include the date and time of each incident of negligence, as well as names of any hospital personnel involved.
    • For example, if your room wasn't cleaned during your stay, you would list the days you stayed in the hospital and the names of any nurses, orderlies, or other attendants you spoke with regarding the condition of your room.
    • If the negligence is an ongoing thing rather than a single incident, it's best to start a diary in which you record each separate incident while the details are still fresh in your mind.
    • If you're not up to doing this yourself, have a family member or trusted friend who visits you often help create the log for you.
  2. Write a detailed letter to hospital administrators. Putting your report in writing creates a record so you can prove that you notified the hospital administrators of the problem. Include specifics about the negligent treatment you experienced and state clearly what you want the hospital to do about it. Close with a deadline 2 weeks after receipt.
    • In the first paragraph, state your name, when you were at the hospital, and the nature of your complaint. Use the next paragraphs to provide details about the issue.
    • Use the final paragraph to describe what you want to happen. For example, you might write: "I expect a full written apology and $3,000 in damages I suffered as a result of this hospital's negligence. This amount can be applied to my outstanding bill. If I don't hear from you, I will follow up 2 weeks after the date you receive this letter."
    • Although you should do this as soon as possible, you might not feel up to it if you've just left the hospital and are still recovering. A friend or family member can write the letter for you — just make sure they include a statement about who they are and their relationship to you, and that you've given them permission to handle the issue on your behalf.
  3. Mail your letter using certified mail with return receipt requested. Certified mail ensures you know exactly when the hospital administrators received your complaint so you can follow up as you stated in the letter. It also gives you proof that the administrators received your complaint in the event they don't respond to it or take action to resolve the issue.
    • Most states require you to work with hospital administrators to resolve your complaint before you report it to the state health department. Keep the card you get in the mail showing that your letter has been delivered — if you go to the state health department, you may need it to prove that you first reported the issue to hospital administrators.
  4. Follow up on your letter 2 weeks after its receipt. When you get the card in the mail letting you know your letter was received, mark the first business day 2 weeks after that date on your calendar. If you haven't heard from the hospital administrators in that time, call to follow up on your letter.
    • When you call, you can simply say that you sent a letter that was received 2 weeks ago and hadn't heard anything, so you're calling to follow up.
    • If the hospital administrators refuse to work with you, feel free to contact your state health department.
    • You might also want to talk to an attorney about the possibility of a lawsuit. Most attorneys who deal with malpractice and hospital negligence offer a free initial consultation.

Contacting Your State Health Department

  1. Find out what state department licenses health care facilities. Your state health department has a specific division that licenses hospitals. That division also enforces state regulations that require hospitals to adhere to a specific standard of care. If that standard of care was not met, that hospital might be considered negligent and face regulatory fines and other penalties.
    • There's a list of state health department websites available at https://empoweredpatientcoalition.org/report-a-medical-event/report-a-hospital-or-facility/state-health-departments-health-licensing/.
  2. Search online for complaint forms that you can use. Most states have online complaint forms that you can use to write out your complaint and submit it quickly and easily online. Search for the health department's website, then click any links related to filing a complaint to find out what forms are available.
    • Make sure the site you're on is an official government site before you submit any complaints or provide any information, particularly personal medical information. The URL will typically have a ".gov" extension. You can also scroll down to the bottom of the page and look at the copyright or ownership information to confirm that it's a state government site.
  3. Write out a detailed letter if there are no forms. If your state's health department doesn't have online forms, or if you don't feel comfortable submitting your complaint online, you can also send a letter describing the negligence you experienced at the hospital. Include the following information in your letter:
    • Your name or the name of the patient and your relationship to them
    • The name and location of the hospital
    • The names of all doctors or nurses involved
    • The date or dates the negligence occurred
    • A description of the harm suffered as a result of the negligence
    • How the hospital administrators responded when you reported the issue to them
  4. Cooperate with health department staff who investigate your complaint. State health departments typically don't investigate all complaints. However, all complaints are reviewed. If the department requires any additional information from you, they'll send you a letter.
    • If the state health department requires additional documentation or information, try to get this to them as soon as possible. They might also want to talk to you or the affected patient about the incident.
    • If the state health department doesn't handle the type of incident you described, you'll typically get a letter with contact information for the agency that does.
    • If you had a friend or family member handle the complaint on your behalf, the health department may want to speak with you directly as part of their investigation.
  5. Use the state medical board to file a complaint against a specific doctor. Doctors and surgeons are typically considered separate from the hospitals where they practice. Their conduct is governed by the state medical board that licenses them. Use this complaint process if your complaint refers to a specific doctor rather than to other employees of the hospital or the hospital itself.
    • To find the website for your state's medical board, do an internet search for "medical board" along with the name of your state. On the home page, look for a tab or link to submit a complaint.

Filing Complaints with National Agencies

  1. Use the nearest QIO office if you're covered by Medicare. The Quality Improvement Office (QIO) nearest you handles complaints about quality of care if you or the affected patient are covered by Medicare. If negligence on the part of the hospital contributed to poor quality of care, let the QIO office know and they will investigate the matter.
    • You can get contact information for the right QIO office by calling 1-800-MEDICARE.
  2. Request a redetermination through Medicare for medical decisions. If the hospital's negligence resulted in you being discharged before you were medically ready, prescribed the wrong medication, or similar issues, Medicare will review that decision. The specific process you use depends on whether you have Original Medicare or a Medicare health plan.
    • If you have Original Medicare, wait until you get your Medicare Summary Notice (MSN) in the mail. It will include information on how to request a redetermination. You have 120 days from the date you get your MSN to request a redetermination.
    • If you have a Medicare health plan, contact your plan's representative. You'll need to follow the appeals process for your plan's carrier.
  3. Submit a complaint to the national Joint Commission. The Joint Commission is a national nonprofit organization that is responsible for accrediting many of the country's hospitals. They review and investigate complaints about quality of care.
    • You can submit a complaint online through the Joint Commission's website. Look for a link to submit a new patient safety event or concern.
    • The Commission may talk to or visit the hospital to investigate your concern. However, they typically don't resolve individual complaints. In other words, they may address the negligent behavior at the hospital to keep it from happening again, they won't order the hospital to do anything to compensate you.

Tips

  • If you want to remain anonymous, your state might have a hotline you can call to make your complaint. However, if you remain anonymous, you won't get any follow-up attention or resolution for your specific issue.

Warnings

  • This article covers how to report hospital negligence in the US. If you live in another country, the process may be different.
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