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Medical Errors in Hospitals: The Stats
An estimated 1.2 million patients are harmed each year due to medical errors at U.S. hospitals, according to a recent article in the Harvard Business Review. Despite a significant effort over two decades to improve safety nationwide, this trend continues.
Simply put, your choice of hospital could put you at risk. Patients are more likely to die when treated in the bottom 10% of hospitals in the country as compared to the top 10%. Those figures may not seem shocking, but what is surprising is that the best and worst hospitals can coexist in the same geographic area.
The article cites the propensity for errors persists for a few reasons:
- There’s no central system of accountability, such as a national patient safety board. The airline industry has such a board that oversees errors and recommends measures to stop crashes. In the medical industry, cases are usually reviewed by an administration that has a vested interest in protecting the doctors and the hospital.
- There is no national mechanism for real-time reporting of medical errors. Today’s electronic health records (EHRs) can automatically upload data of expected versus actual deaths, medication errors, wrong-sided surgeries, and more. Putting that information in a national database could motivate hospitals to make immediate improvements. In addition, those EHR systems are not being used to capacity. They can signal risky conditions which may prevent errors.
- Patient and staff safety are not always a priority. During the COVID-19 pandemic, one hospital stopped screening for COVID-19 prior to surgery because it caused delays. As a result, both staff and patients were put at risk with potential exposure to the disease.
Tom Duffy is a top medical malpractice attorney in Philadelphia who has secured 8-figure verdicts and settlements for his clients from most of the large teaching hospitals and universities in the Philadelphia area. If you would like to discuss the details of a possible medical malpractice lawsuit in Philadelphia, please contact us.