Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice is a reality in our country. We want to believe that doctors, nurses and the people that we trust to care for our loved ones when they are ill, are doing their best. And for most people, this is the case. But there are other situations, where our loved ones get sicker or worse die, because of the care they receive. Your loved ones are not a statistic. Each of the numbers below represents an individual that suffered because of preventable. (reprinted from the Forbes article “Six Frightening Facts You Need To Know About Healthcare)

Please, take a moment to look at these numbers:

1. Up to 400,000 people are killed each year due to preventable medical errors.  A new study recently released by the Journal of Patient Safety indicates that between 210,000 and 400,000 hospital patients each year suffers some type of preventable harm that contributes to their death. This new study estimates preventable medical errors are the third leading cause of death in America, behind heart disease (1st) and cancer (2nd).

2. $765,000,000,000 or 30% of all U.S. healthcare costs, each year is wasted.  A 2011 Institute of Medicine (IOM) study, “The Healthcare Imperative:  Lowering Costs and Improving Outcomes,” indicated that of the $2.5 trillion spent on domestic healthcare costs in 2009, $765 billion (or 30%) was attributable to preventable costs.  These costs include fraud, unnecessary services, inefficiently delivered services, and excessive administration costs.  At the current growth rate, healthcare costs are expected to skyrocket to an unsustainable $4.5 trillion in 2019.

3.  33% of hospital patients suffer some form of preventable harm during their hospital stay.  A 2012 IOM study, entitled “Best Care at Lower Cost,” reported that 1/3 of hospital patients experienced some form of Hospital Acquired Conditions (HACs), ranging from minor injuries to death.  Put that in the context of another consumer product.  If your iPhone gave you a harmful shock one out of every three times that you checked your e-mail, would Apple stay in business?

4.  58% of clinicians felt unsafe about speaking up about a problem they observed or were unable to get others to listen.  This statistic first appeared in a 2005 report by VitalSmarts and the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) called “Silence Kills.”  The report also found that “84 percent of doctors observed colleagues who took dangerous shortcuts when caring for patients and 88 percent worked with people who showed poor clinical judgment.”   These stats are startling in and of themselves, but the most worrisome item in the report was that, “despite the risks to patients, less than 10 percent of physicians, nurses, and other clinical staff directly confronted their colleagues about their concerns.”

5.  Critical care patients each experience nearly 2 medical errors per day.  According to a 1995 article from the Journal of Critical Care Medicine, intensive care unit (ICU) patients experienced, on average, 1.7 medical errors per day.   The study concluded that the main reason for the errors was significant communication failure between clinicians.  While the study is one of the older ones cited in this column, most clinicians believe that this disturbing statistic is still valid today.

If you suspect that your caregiver or hospital made a mistake, please call us. We can help you get justice.

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