The Seattle Times reported today that, under a voluntary agreement between the State of Washington, Governor Christine Gregoire and leading hospitals, medical centers and medical providers, medical providers will not bill patients when their medical errors results in injury to the patient. The agreement is not binding but pledges that patients will not be billed for surgeries to correct mistakes and hospital stays as a result of mistakes.
The Seattle Times article detailed the case of Dennis Rockenbach of Bellingham who was severely injured after an operating room error resulted in severe burns to his throat during routine surgery. Rockenbach was in intensive care for a month after surgery and was then billed $66,000 by the hospital and his physicians. Rockenbach sued the hospital and physicians and ultimately settled his case for $7 million dollars.
Patients routinely are billed for mistakes such as surgical instruments left in the body and operating on the wrong limb. The most common injury to a patient is bedsores – pressure ulcers – which may result when a patient is confined to bed for a long period of time.
The Leapfrog Group for patient safety, a national organization which works towards eliminating medical mistakes, was instrumental in facilitating several states and groups in working out this agreement.
This agreement between the State of Washington and medial practitioners goes a long way in helping medical practitioners accept responsibility when they make a mistake. However, if a patient is injured as a result of medical negligence, they may also be eligible for a damage award. If you want more information on this case or assistance with a medical malpractice case, contact us at the Farber Law Group. With the help of The Farber Law Group, a Washington firm experienced and knowledgeable in handling medical malpractice cases, you may be able to recover damages in a medical malpractice lawsuit.