While other states around the country have ushered in an era of transparency in hospital safety information, making important safety records easily available to the public, the state of Georgia has lagged behind.The state has strict restrictions on public accessibility to information on aspects of patient safety that include patient suicides, sexual assaults that occur in a hospital and surgical errors.There is very limited access to such information.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is using the case of twenty-seven-year-old Matthew Reese to illustrate the point that Georgia’s hospitals need to be more forthcoming about offering information to the public.Reese died in September this year, committing suicide by hanging himself from a hospital bed sheet.He was a transsexual, and had been admitted to the SummitRidge Hospital in Lawrenceville.Friends say that he had been talking about taking his own life.Georgia State officials are expected to investigate whether mistakes made by SummitRidge Hospital contributed to Reese’s death.
However, Atlanta medical malpractice lawyers and patient safety groups will not be able to access the results of the inquiry or its conclusions.The atmosphere of secrecy that surrounds hospitals in Georgia is in marked contrast to that around the country.
Hospitals elsewhere have become more open, allowing access to safety information.However, Georgia does not allow public review of reports submitted by a hospital following any safety incidents.Georgia public health authorities do not provide information when they investigate a facility after violations have been reported.Details about wrongdoing by a facility, as well as details of investigations that Georgia health authorities conduct, are not available to the public.
The result is that consumers have very little information available to them when they need to make a decision about a particular hospital.Around the country, consumers have become more empowered, and can easily access hospital safety information on a website, before they make a decision about a particular hospital.In Georgia, however, patients still have no access to such empowering information, and may have no information about whether the hospital has been cited for safety violations or has been investigated for violations.
Not surprisingly, hospitals contend that making safety records available for the public would do more harm than good.They believe that when these facilities are encouraged to report mistakes and make records available to the public, it discourages medical professionals from accepting or reporting errors.Georgia health authorities support this point of view.
Atlanta medical malpractice lawyers don’t believe that’s true at all.Hospitals around the country have adopted a more open approach to the availability of hospital safety records to the public, and have tightened their safety processes in response to violations.Hospitals have successfully promoted a culture where medical professionals are not punished for reporting errors, thereby enhancing patient safety. Georgia needs to follow suit.
The Atlanta medical malpractice attorneys at the Katz Law Firm represent persons who have been injured due to medical negligence across Georgia.