Increased Risk of Fatal Mistakes – One Factor Certified Legal Nurse Consultants Can’t Afford to Ignore

Experienced Certified Legal Nurse Consultants know that a patient’s choice of surgeon can significantly increase the odds of a better surgical outcome. But when a patient is about to undergo a high-risk surgical procedure, they might not be considering another important variable – the “predicted survival” estimate for the procedure at the particular treating facility.

Patients often choose a hospital because of geographic convenience or because that’s where their surgeon has privileges or worse, simply because it’s “in network.” Failing to research the survival rates at a specific facility could be a fatal mistake. An analysis by the Leapfrog Group gathered data on four high-risk surgeries (pancreatectomy, esophagectomy, aortic valve replacements and abdominal aneurysm repair) and found the “predictive survival” rates varied as much as 19% between healthcare facilities.

As a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant (plaintiff or defense) on surgical cases, you should advise your attorney-client to request information on the hospital’s “predicted survival” rate for the plaintiff’s procedure and compare that rate to the national benchmark. There is no such thing as a risk-free surgery, but hospitals and other healthcare providers owe their patients a duty of providing reasonable and prudent care. A 19% lower survival rate than the hospital next door hardly seems reasonable and prudent.

Also assist your attorney-client with discovery by requesting what the hospital does to strive to increase the number of good surgical outcomes and also request applicable policies and procedures. The answers to these discovery questions by a hospital administrator may prove useful during settlement negotiations and later at trial.

I’m Just Sayin’

P.S. Comment and share your thoughts on how hospital choice can affect a patient’s chance of surviving high-risk surgery.

One thought on “Increased Risk of Fatal Mistakes – One Factor Certified Legal Nurse Consultants Can’t Afford to Ignore

  1. I absolutely agree. But, it can also work the other way. One of our local facilities really cherry-picks their heart surgery cases. Better numbers, we presume. The doing, however, also reduces their opportunity to get really skilled surgeons to work on the tough cases. On the QT, over a few years’ time, I have personally referred 9 patients to the main cardiac surgery team Dr. Albert Pacifico made famous at UAB-Birmingham. These had each one, been turned down either for being too ill (they got the bucket list speech) or not ill enough, even though as an experienced cardiac RN, I found the individual denial reasons hard to buy, given their histories. UAB saw every one of them and took every one to the OR. They resumed their normal lives afterward. Ten years later, only one of the nine is deceased, himself from lung cancer that materialized 5 years after his very complicated CABG/MVR and aortic arch aneurysm repair. So, the point is, numbers don’t always tell the whole truth. And for us in the 5-6 hour catchment area, although Dr. Pacifico has since retired, his team at UAB is still fabulous for cardiac surgery.

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