General Hospital Hippokratio of Thessaloniki, Greece
Evangelia Michail is a Consultant Anesthesiologist-Intensivist, Intensive Medicine Department, Hippokration General Hospital, Senior Student in the Department of Business Administration, University of Macedonia, Masters Degree, International Medicine-Health Crisis Management, Greece.
Error in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) is a well-documented and frequent problem. This is understandable as one looks at the complexities of serious disease along with the number of invasive and potentially harmful procedures that are commonly used there. Until recently, allegations of medical malpractice resulting from suspected mismanagement in the ICU were unusual, but there has been a rise in the last years.
It is difficult to determine whether the increase in lawsuits is due to a real increase in adverse incidents or to a shift in media perception. There is no question that the aggressive cover-up by law companies dealing in personal injury lawsuits offering to initiate claims on a contingency fee basis has become more common. The Medical Protection Society is experiencing an increasing number of claims generally, and the value of damages awarded is skyrocketing.
This includes the insufficient number of ICU beds in the public sector and the acute lack of appropriate nurses in both the public and private sectors. More troubling are the obstacles faced by nurses to apply for critical care and the limited number of critical care nurses graduating. Coupled with a high rate of turnover due to burn-out and greater work openings in other industries and overseas, this leads to a situation where even private ICUs fail to staff their units and retain standards. The mixture of high bed occupancy, chronically ill patients, and novice nurses provides the ideal atmosphere for errors and incidents that can lead to lawsuits for damages. The condition is not any different on the medical side.