Hospital errors are a serious issue in Massachusetts and across the country. Mistakes made by hospital workers are a big cause of complications for patients. In fact, many observers estimate that human error is the third leading cause of death in the U.S. Studies in the United States and Australia have helped to shed a light on the scope and seriousness of this problem.
Crunching the numbers
Studying the number of medical errors in a hospital setting is a good way to get a handle on how big the problem is. One study in the U.S. during the 1980s involved over 30,000 patients from 50 hospitals. It showed that medical management issues led to injuries in about 4% of patients. Of those injuries, almost 70% were related to errors made by staff.
The Australian study involved looking at over 14,000 individual medical records. It uncovered serious injuries in about 13.5% of patients. Almost 5% of those patients died as a result of these injuries. Just over 50% of these adverse events were related to errors made in delivering care.
Addressing the problem
Today, hospitals are working hard to reduce the numbers of medical errors. Medical malpractice doesn’t just harm a facility’s reputation and injure patients: It also costs hospitals lots of money. By implementing measures to support accuracy in delivering care, hospitals are seeking to limit their liability.
Problem areas for hospitals include medication errors, incorrect or late diagnosis, and inadequate prevention and monitoring. Increased on-the-job training for teams, use of electronic records and support for better habits all have the potential to limit medical errors.
Anyone who believes that they have been hurt due to medical errors should contact a lawyer. An experienced advocate may be able to help patients receive the damages they deserve.