Over the past several years, medical facilities that were already struggling due to understaffing were, in many instances, pushed to a breaking point. Due to high demand for emergency and urgent care combined with an inability to maintain proper staffing levels, many facilities struggled just to remain open. As the emergency phase of the Covid-19 pandemic waned, a high demand for care that could not be obtained during the pandemic hit healthcare facilities with another wave of patients who were desperately in need of services.
Partially due to the chaotic nature of the past few years, a number of patient safety concerns have become pressing business. Specifically, The Joint Commission recently revealed that patient fall rates and the rate at which patients are experiencing sentinel events have been spiking dramatically since the pandemic began.
What Is a Sentinel Event?
If you are familiar with the concept of medical malpractice, you may have heard the term “never event.” Medical malpractice cases involving so-called never events are among the easiest for a patient to win because they are centered on a mistake or act of negligence that is so blatantly egregious that it should, quite simply, never happen. Wrong-site surgery is an excellent example of a never event. There is simply no excuse for a surgeon who operates on a patient’s incorrect body part.
By contrast, a sentinel event is – as defined by The Joint Commission – a “patient safety event that results in death, permanent harm or severe temporary harm.” This is a much broader category of harm-related causation than never events. It is conceivable that a sentinel event could occur that is not legally actionable. However, most patient safety events are, by definition, preventable. As a result, it is likely that any patient who suffers as a result of a sentinel event has grounds upon which to file a personal injury lawsuit, regardless of whether the focus of that lawsuit is medical malpractice, defective medical products, premises liability, or even assault.
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It is worth noting that The Joint Commission has confirmed that communication failures among healthcare providers and provider failure to follow safety policies are responsible for the majority of the unacceptable number of sentinel events affecting patients in Chicago and across the U.S. As a result, if you or a loved one has suffered harm in a healthcare context that could potentially have been prevented by an altered approach to patient care, chances are good that your situation is legally actionable.
Consider connecting with the knowledgeable team of personal injury attorneys at Anesi Ozmon, LTD. to learn more about your rights and options under the law. By scheduling a free consultation, you can potentially take your first steps toward receiving any compensation to which you may be rightfully entitled. To get started, you can either call us at 312-997-5784 or connect with our team online. You have been through a great deal. Consider allowing our team to handle the legal “heavy lifting” of your situation so that you can focus on healing.