I came across this article in the New York Times titled “Mistakes Still Prevalent in Hospital Care, Study Finds“. The article didn’t tell me, a Central and Syracuse New York medical malpractice lawyer, anything I didn’t already know. To know how prevalent hospital malpractice is, all I have to do is pick up phone and listen to the stories my clients tell me.
The Times article discusses a recent, extensive study on hospital errors and problems. This is the first major study of hospital malpractice since 1999. That one caused a public outcry when it revealed that hospital malpractice causes a million injuries a year, and more than 50,000 deaths, in the U.S. alone.
The new study concludes that things have not improved since 1999. Here is a very scary statistic: About 18 percent of hospital patients are harmed by medical care, and most of those injuries are preventable.
The study concludes that many hospitals have failed to implement safety measures proven to reduce errors. How can hospitals improve safety? The study suggests that 1/3 of the errors in the intensive care unit disappear when residents work 16 hours or less. But they are still working longer hours. Longer than 16 hours? You have got to be kidding! No wonder they make mistakes.
Also, computerized systems for prescription drug orders, which drastically reduce prescription errors — by as much as 80 percent — are available. (The computer corrects the doctors’ dosage prescription errors and alerts doctors when they have ordered a drug counterindicated for the patient.) Yet only 17 percent of hospitals have installed such life-saving computer systems.
Also, the study shows, hospitals can reduce deaths and injuries caused by medical malpractice by being transparent, and allowing themselves to be compared to other hospitals. The sense of competition among hospitals spurs improvements. Patients ought to be able to easily know, for example, the infection rate of their hospital compared to other hospitals. They will vote with their feet, and the hospital who finds its beds empty will either shut down or improve its safety statistics.
This article demonstrates, as usual, good reporting by the New York Times. But next time they want to know about the prevalence of hospital medical malpractice, all they have to do is call me!
Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org I’d love to hear from you!
Michael G. Bersani, Esq.
Central NY Personal Injury Lawyer Michaels & Smolak, P.C.