How to Report Medical Malpractice

By Caroline Adams
"Where do I report medical malpractice?"

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Medical malpractice is an act or omission by a health care provider that deviates from what is the accepted standards of practice in that particular medical community. This act or omission must have a causal relationship to the injury sustained by the patient. Medical malpractice is basically professional negligence that leads to patient injury or complications. There has been a movement within the medical community to track and manage hospital/health care provider deviations and errors. Medical malpractice data is collected by several key organizations and used to improve the quality and safety of health care practices throughout the country. Reports of medical malpractice are therefore welcomed by the medical community in the spirit of improving patient care.

Obtain the patient&#039;s medical records from the hospital and the physician&#039;s office by contacting the appropriate medical records departments. Sign a "release of records" form as required by individual records departments. Pay copying fees as required.

Contact the hospital risk management department if the injury that resulted was due to medical malpractice that occurred during a hospital treatment or stay. Be prepared to answer questions about the date and time of occurrence, staff members involved and injury that resulted. Set up a date and time when the risk manager is to call back with a report of the department&#039;s investigation. Maintain a notebook or computer file to record the date, time and person with whom you spoke.

Contact the Joint Commission (formerly the JCAHO) by telephone or through its website to file a report of concern about medical malpractice in a health care facility. Complete the online form provided with accurate dates and times as well as names of medical staff involved. Record details in a notebook.

Report any concerns about physician performance to the National Practitioner Data Bank. Provide accurate dates, times and details. Record it in a notebook.

Contact a medical malpractice attorney. Provide the attorney with any medical records that are pertinent to the medical malpractice issue. Include copies of medical bills; proof of lost wages; related out-of-pocket expenses such as home nurse fees, medical equipment rental and additional hospitalizations.

About the Author

Caroline Adams has been a professional writer and educator since 1980. She has published articles on health-care risk management and continuing education for health-care professionals. Her credentials include a nursing degree, a B.A. in pre-law, a M.A. in health-care law and a M.Ed. from DePaul University. She has taught at several colleges and universities in the Midwest including the University of Illinois and DePaul University.