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Is a reported adverse event the same as hospital negligence?

California legislators recognize the importance of attentive, thorough, and error-free care in the state's hospitals. A California law known as SB 1301 is designed to encourage better care by requiring disclosure of medical errors to the patient who was treated, as well as to the public. SB 1301 defines 28 specific adverse events, which are medical occurrences leading to the possibility of serious bodily harm or imminent danger of death. These adverse events may occur at acute psychiatric or general hospitals, or at special hospitals, and may be episodes of possible medical malpractice.

Hospitals must report an adverse event within five days of detecting the event, or within 24 hours if the event is an urgent threat to the safety of patients, employees and visitors of the facility.

There are numerous types of events that may constitute an adverse event, and they fall into seven broad categories. A surgical adverse event may include surgery performed on the wrong patient or body part, or if an object was left in a person following surgery. A product or device adverse event may occur if a hospital staff treats a patient with a device that does not function as intended and leads to death or serious injury to the patient. A patient protection adverse event may involve the disappearance of a patient or the erroneous discharge of an infant.

A care management adverse event may involve a doctor providing an improper dosage of medication that proves fatal for the patient. If a patient dies or is seriously injured from a burn or electric shock while being treated in a hospital, this may qualify as an environmental adverse event. A criminal adverse event may involve the sexual assault or abduction of a patient. Finally, any event that leads to the death or serious disability of a visitor to the facility, personnel or patient may qualify as an adverse event.

If you or a loved one have received treatment at a hospital that has reported an adverse event, you may have been the victim of hospital negligence. It may be beneficial to seek counsel from an experienced attorney who can discuss options to possibly obtain compensation for the consequences of an adverse event.

Source: News10 ABC, "What is an 'adverse event,' more from California Department of Public Health", accessed May 16, 2015

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