Six steps to take if you’ve suffered harm in a medical facility

If studies are accurate, more than a million patients in the US are harmed a year by the medical care they thought would heal them. Here are six recommended steps the sufferer can take

This post, originally published on Sept. 18, 2012, has been updated.

I often speak to people who have become victims of patient harm. They, or maybe a loved one, went to the hospital, nursing home or doctor’s office and suffered a preventable injury, infection or medical error. Many times they’re seriously disabled. Or they’re calling me because their family member or loved one was killed.

If studies are accurate, more than a million patients are harmed a year by the medical care they thought would heal them. When it happens, many patients and their family members don’t know where to turn for answers and accountability.

To provide some guidance I spoke to Helen Haskell, founder of Mothers Against Medical Error. She recommends they take six steps.

If you're a patient who has been harmed, help us explore the issue by sharing your story with ProPublica reporters. We're also seeking medical providers to volunteer their expertise.

1. Get a copy of medical records. Every patient has a right to his or her medical records under federal law. These records can provide important information about what happened – and what might have gone wrong.

What to do: As soon as possible after the incident, contact your doctor’s office or go to the hospital’s medical records department and ask for a complete copy, including doctor and nursing notes, lab results and copies of diagnostic images. (Warning: There may be significant charges for copying, and records can sometimes be altered.)

2. Make sure the incident is reported internally. Accredited hospitals are required to conduct internal investigations of serious medical incidents. And they’re supposed to have procedures in place to deal with incidents that lead to patient harm or could lead to patient harm.

What to do: Ask to be part of the investigation, or to at least have your version of events on record as part of the analysis.

3. If the patient has died, order a forensic autopsy, which includes toxicology tests. Autopsies — though not always 100 percent accurate — are the most reliable means of finding out what happened in an unexpected death. Hospitals do not routinely conduct autopsies, but the family has the right to get one.

What to do: In some situations, the local coroner or medical examiner is supposed to be called if a patient dies in a medical facility. If the authorities decline to take the case, the family may have to pay for a forensic autopsy. In that case, ask the coroner or medical examiner’s office for a referral to an independent pathologist.

4. Consider calling an attorney. Be aware that the standards for proving medical malpractice are much higher than most patients expect. Attorneys take few cases because they’re expensive to pursue and difficult to win. Even if an attorney does not take your case, however, he or she may help you deal with the hospital or other providers.

What to do: Ask friends or lawyers you know for the name of an experienced malpractice attorney. Or find one online.

5. Meet with the doctor and hospital officials. Ask them how they will prevent future harm to other patients. If the patient has suffered damages or died, you can also negotiate directly with the providers to waive medical bills or agree on an amount for compensation. You may wish to bring an attorney to help ensure that any agreement you make is in your best interest.

What to do: The Assertive Patient has some tips.

6. Report the incident to regulators, who can investigate. While regulatory action is often much milder than patients assume is warranted, it creates a paper trail. Providers may be cited or fined and required to create a program for improvement.

What to do: It’s necessary to report to the correct agency:


Update: This post first appeared in ProPublica’s Patient Harm Facebook Group. We are updating it here as part of our ongoing reporting into patient safety.





Bapoo Malcolm

3 years ago

As in all matters legal, documentation is all important. It provides SOLID proof.

In short, stay calm, collected and collect. Every scrap counts. Have succeeded with only one envelope that was found being used as a bookmark!

Bapoo M. Malcolm

Nifty, Sensex may struggle to move up further: Wednesday closing report

The Indian benchmark indices may give up some gains to make a fresh move up

The Indian market opened Wednesday higher and stayed in a range until around 1.00pm, after which it started giving up the gains. However, after trading in the negative for a little while, the market managed to come back in the green. The NSE 50-share Nifty closed in the positive for the fifth consecutive session.


The BSE 30-share Sensex opened at 22,135 while the Nifty opened at 6,616. Both the indices hit their all time high at 22,172 and 6,627, respectively. The indices hit a low of 22,021 and 6,581 during the day. Sensex closed at 22,095 (up 40 points or 0.18%) while Nifty closed at 6,601 (up 12 points or 0.18%). The NSE recorded a volume of 78.34 crore shares.


Among the other indices on the NSE, the top five gainers were Metal (2.64%); Commodities (1.47%); PSU Bank (1.44%); CPSE (1.40%) and MNC (1.27%). The top five losers were Pharma (2.07%); Media (1.96%); IT (0.84%); FMCG (0.69%) and Service (0.11%).


Of the 50 stocks on the Nifty, 28 ended in the green. The top five gainers were Sesa Sterlite (3.94%), Hindalco (3.60%), Jindal Steel (3.28%), IDFC (3.04%) and Bank of Baroda (2.58%). The top five losers were Dr Reddy (3.32%), Lupin (2.43%), Jaiprakash Associates (2.25%), Sun Pharma (2.18%), TCS (2.17%).


Of the 1,552 companies on the NSE, 665 companies closed in the green, 794 companies in the red while 93 closed flat.


March 2014 Futures & Options (F&O) contracts will expire on Thursday.


The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Tuesday made investments in India easier for foreign investors by allowing them to open special rupee as well as foreign currency accounts with local banks. For this purpose, RBI clubbed foreign institutional investors and qualified foreign investors under one category called “Registered Foreign Portfolio Investor” (RFPI).


Tata Motors, one of the Sensex stocks, was among the top five gainers in the pack of 30. The stock was in news for its price hike in April. Tata Motors rose 2.70% to close at Rs 401.25 on the BSE.


The Supreme Court on Wednesday agreed to release the Sahara chief Subrata Roy on bail subject to a deposit Rs5,000 crore to the securities regulator as well as provide bank guarantees for another Rs5,000 crore. It agreed to defreeze bank accounts of Sahara companies to raise the Rs10,000 crore. The court adjourned the case to tomorrow, asking Sahara to give details of the bank accounts that are to be defreezed. Sahara One Media & Entertainment rose 5% to close Rs59.85 on the BSE.


Tata Steel today sold its 25-acre Borivali land parcel in Mumbai for Rs1,155 crore to Oberoi Realty through e-auction. The site measuring roughly 25 acres is located at the junction of Western Express Highway and Dattapada road in Borivali (E), Mumbai, and is abutting both these roads. Oberoi Realty was among the top two gainers in the ‘A’ group of BSE. The stock rose 9.69% to close at Rs217.95 on the BSE.


Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) has inked a pact with a leading Saudi Arabian lender - National Commercial Bank - to implement a new core banking software platform that is likely to "transform" its customer service delivery system. TCS was among the losers in the Sensex 30 stocks. TCS fell 2.21% to close at Rs2,098.35 on the BSE.


US indices closed in the green on Tuesday. US consumer confidence jumped in March 2014 to the highest level in more than six years. The Conference Board on Tuesday reported that its gauge of consumer confidence reached 82.3 in March — the highest level since January 2008 — compared with an upwardly revised 78.3 in February. US home prices slipped in January for a third straight month after a particularly harsh winter, according to data released Tuesday, as strong year-over-year appreciation showed signs of moderating. New US homes sold at an annual rate of 440,000 in February, down 3.3% from January's one-year high, the government said Tuesday.


Except for Shanghai Composite (0.18%) and NZSE 50 (0.11%) all the other Asian indices closed in the green. Straits Times (1.26%) was the top gainer. European indices were trading in the green. US premarket futures too were trading higher.


Change! Thy name is science

We still use the outdated Newtonian physics to understand the human body. We also use the reductionist view of human healing. The result has been disastrous, to say the least

Science is change. Anything that remains static does not qualify to be science in the true sense of the word. Philosophically, science is just wonderment of man about this wonderful wonder called the universe, which has now become multiverse, according to quantum physics where multiple universes are recognised in actuality. Change keeps on occurring with man’s ability to think laterally. Majority of us are conformists and we do not think out of the box and are not capable of understanding progress in science.
Occasionally, someone comes along with a new idea that coruscates like the midday sun.

The history of science from the very beginning was created by curious observers called scientists. Our cave dwelling ancestors were as curious as we are about this world. Initially they were content by observing the sun’s rays coming into the caves where they could see the shadows on their cave walls. Later a few daring thinkers among them ventured out of the cave and were amazed at the vast expanse outside in the bright shining sun. They came back to tell the majority who were still inside the dark caves. Curiously that situation obtains even now. Nearly ninety years ago the conventional deterministic Newtonian physics changed into the Werner Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle. Heisenberg went out of the cave of ignorance created by Newton and dared to challenge the accepted norm. We still hang on to Newtonian physics, which is good enough to make money.

People like Heisenberg, Paul Dirac, Schrodinger, Pauli, Max Planck, Niels Bohr, Hans Peter Durr, Feynman, and a couple of fence sitters like Albert Einstein and his ardent fan, Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington of his “fish net” theory fame have all contributed their share for this growth. Everything in the physical universe is made up of subatomic particles such as leptons. These particles exist, when not observed, as just pure potentials. Our physical actuality (not reality) is only potentials when not observed. The quantum universe is “waiting for a conscious observer (you or me) to come along and influence energy in the form of potential matter by using the mind and consciousness (which are themselves energy) to make waves of energetic probabilities coalesce into physical matter. We, the observers cause a particle or groups of particles to manifest. We communicate with the quantum field primarily through our thoughts and feelings.

In this universe, there is nothing as enigmatic as the human body and the working of it. We still use the outdated Newtonian physics to understand the human body. We also use the reductionist view of human healing. The result has been disastrous, to say the least. Every single audit, since Hippocrates, shows how the medical world has been harming human beings! Science has gone too far from that mechanistic view of human being to the quantum view that shows the human body to be a colony of 100 trillion individual human cells, which are capable of independent life on their own. Each cell, in turn, has 100 trillion atoms at the lowest level and then of course the subatomic particles. Each atom in the human body emits a photon light which can now be studied using the bio-photon camera invented by Fritz-Albert Popp. When the cells are happy and are in sync one is healthy and vice versa.

Human being is eminently capable of self-healing without outside help as long as the human thoughts and emotions are positive; filled with universal compassion. When the mind and consciousness are negative and hateful, the human healing suffers and diseases do come up. This was shown above as to how the thoughts and emotions make energy probabilities into physical matter. Even the genes can be changed by this healing process proving Darwin’s views to be found wanting.  One such experiment is quoted below for reference.

“Cellular biologist Glen Rein, Ph.D., conceived of a series of experiments to test healers’ ability to affect biological systems. Since DNA is more stable than substances such as cells or bacterial cultures, he decided to have healers hold test tubes containing DNA. This study took place at the Heart Math Research Centre in California. The folks there have conducted extraordinary research into the physiology of emotions, heart-brain interactions, and much more. Essentially, they and others have documented a specific link between our emotional states and our heart rhythms. Let us see one of their experiments.

“In Dr. Rein’s experiment, he first studied a group of ten individuals, who were well practiced in using techniques that Heart Math teaches to build heart-focused coherence. They applied the techniques to produce strong, elevated feelings such as love and appreciation, then for two minutes, they held vials containing DNA samples suspended in deionized water. When those samples were analysed, no statistically significant changes had occurred. A second group of trained participants did the same thing, but instead of just creating positive emotions (a feeling) of love and appreciation, they simultaneously held an intention (a thought) to either wind or unwind the strands of DNA. This group produced statistically significant changes in the conformation (shape) of the DNA samples. In some cases the DNA was wound or unwound as much as 25%!”

Indian wisdom of Ayurveda and many other so called complementary systems have been trying this Whole Person Healing (WPH) for centuries with good results. Some charlatans give those systems a bad name. Allopathic system is only a few hundred years old and it received its respectability because it can misuse the word science to support its tall claims. But audits since the time of Hippocrates have been showing otherwise. The tag of science is only The Golem to frighten people and get them into their fold. I have written about the faulty reductionist science of modern medicine elsewhere in great detail. Since this world is only energy which when observed becomes matter, we need energy sources to heal better.

There are many methods of healing that have been authentically studied by our group at The World Academy of Authentic Healing Sciences. Their results and future would be separately discussed. Man has to change the “I” concept to the “WE” concept to change from illness to wellness because we are all interconnected.

(Professor Dr BM Hegde, a Padma Bhushan awardee in 2010, is an MD, PhD, FRCP (London, Edinburgh, Glasgow & Dublin), FACC and FAMS. He is also Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of the Science of Healing Outcomes, chairman of the State Health Society's Expert Committee, Govt of Bihar, Patna. He is former Vice Chancellor of Manipal University at Mangalore and former professor for Cardiology of the Middlesex Hospital Medical School, University of London.)



Ramesh Jaradhara

3 years ago

The theory of Prof. Dr. B.M.Hegde is supported by theory of Dr. Deek Chopra in his world famous book "AGELESS BODY,TIMELESS MIND" based on quantum physics. A must read book for looking our body & mind with a quantum view.

Madhu Menon

3 years ago

Incredible amount of bullshit in one article.

vivek monteiro

3 years ago

bull shit

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