FindLaw KnowledgeBasePublished: 2012-04-19
Few things are more important in life than proper medical care. Doctors, nurses and other medical care providers understand this and work hard to care for patients. Unfortunately, however, a large study in the New England Journal of Medicine by Harvard Professor Dr. Christopher P. Landrigan found that 18 percent of patients actually suffer injury while being treated for a medical condition.
The study examined 10 hospitals in North Carolina that had focused on increasing patient safety. Because Dr. Landrigan’s study focused on hospitals that were actively trying to reduce medical errors, he told The New York Times “[it] is unlikely that other regions of the country have fared better.”
The majority of the harms caused to the patients were preventable, the study concluded. Nearly 3 percent of the harm caused was permanent, and 2.4 percent of the medical errors contributed to the patient’s death. In addition, because reporting a mistake is usually voluntary, the actual number of incidents where care causes harm to the patient could be much greater than reports show.
A seminal study by the National Institute of Medicine conducted in 1999 showed that 98,000 patients die as a result of medical negligence every year and 1 million patients are injured. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found that approximately one in seven Medicare beneficiaries had an “adverse event” occur from medical treatment in a hospital in 2008, and that half of those were likely preventable. In the month the study occurred, a shocking 15,000 beneficiaries had a medical mistake contribute to their death.
Efforts to improve patient safety include using electronic medical records, tracking patient safety and clear communication among medical personnel.
Harmed in a Hospital?
Hospital employees try hard to treat patients successfully. Unfortunately, there is a lot of work to be done to improve patient care in hospitals. Everyone, including doctors, make mistakes. If you experienced harm resulting from possible medical negligence, contact an experienced personal injury attorney familiar with medical malpractice cases. You may be able to obtain financial help for your medical bills or to help pay funeral and other expenses for the death of a loved one caused by medical malpractice.