At a major academic medical center, a friend was recently scheduled for a tricky off-label injection into her leg to deal with a long-term disability. The previous injection had proved to be helpful. Knowing that the placement of the injection was critical, my friend specifically requested that the attending physician, rather than a trainee, administer it. When the time came for the injection, the attending left the room, and the trainee delivered it--into the wrong place. My friend immediately knew something was wrong but decided to wait a few days to see if there was any long-term effect. There was, and her physical condition reverted to a much earlier period, setting her back over a year in treatment progress.
She reported this to the attending and also talked to the site manager at this hospital. Neither was responsive. Indeed, the site manager said that my friend should have expected a trainee to handle the case because it is a teaching hospital and because it was an elective procedure. No one admitted that a mistake had been made or apologized in any way.
She asked to get a second opinion as to the cause of the problem and the next steps. The doctor chosen for the second opinion was rude to her, yelled at her, and refused to discuss the data my friend brought in for the meeting.
The president of the hospital likewise was rude and unresponsive.
Meanwhile, from a third party, my friend learned that the original attending knew that things were awry in the clinic that day, that she was in error by not being present for the procedure, and that the trainee indeed caused the damage. The doctor did not tell the patient any of this, but panicked and hid all of these facts. My friend also learned that the other people at the hospital from whom she had tried to receive satisfaction were protecting the attending.
But this hospital is at the top of the list in US News and World Report.