Over the past year, hospitals in Washington left “foreign objects? in 36 surgery patients. 21 patients got surgery on the wrong body part. A Washington law passed last year prevents public disclosure of these types of medical negligence. The law was supported by the Washington State Hospital Association.
Unfortunately, this type of medical malpractice is universal and does occur in Los Angeles area hospitals as well. Although California does not have a similar law, almost anytime a medical malpractice case settles, the settlement includes a confidentiality clause to prevent the patient from telling anyone about the doctor or hospital’s negligence.
As a result, in California, Washington, and other states, patients do not have access to information that could be of great assistance in choosing a hospital or a doctor.
While there is an effort to change this damaging Washington law, Californians have no way to escape the confidentiality which accompanies most settlements. There was a recent effort to make it illegal to make a settlement confidential, but such reform efforts were quickly silenced.