Hospitals are generally regarded as health care institutions that we can go to for medical emergencies as well as for planned treatment, such as to have a baby or a particular test. There are also specialized hospitals that focus on the care of children, senior citizens, the mentally ill, and those with certain diseases. We trust our health to doctors, nurses, technicians, and other medical staff without pausing to consider that going to the hospital might make us sicker.
Medical Errors: The Third Leading Cause of Death
It can be difficult to get an accurate count of how many patients actually experience preventable harm, because medical records may be inaccurate and medical providers may be reluctant to report mistakes. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States, behind heart disease, which is the first, and cancer, which is second. A 2013 study in the Journal of Patient Safety estimates that every year between 210,000 and 440,000 people who go to the hospital for care experience a preventable medical episode that contributes to their death.
How Does Your Hospital Rate?The Hospital Safety Score is a public service available at no cost. Click here.
The higher end of that range is roughly one-sixth of all U.S. deaths each year, but even the low estimate reflects the reality that far too many people are being harmed by medical error. In fact, the president and CEO of a nonprofit organization that assigns grades to more than 2,500 U.S. general hospitals based on their ability to prevent errors, accidents, injuries, and infections observes that, “We are burying a population the size of Miami every year from medical errors that can be prevented.”The Hospital Safety Score is a public service available at no cost online or on the free mobile app.
Some Encouraging Data
One piece of good news is that in the late 2000s, an investigation was launched to identify the most beneficial practices that could reduce hospital-acquired medical conditions. Many improvements were noted once these practices were put into place in 2010:
- Occurrences of hospital-induced harm dropped by an estimated 1.3 million episodes.
- An estimated 20,300 lives were saved by a decline in bed sores.
- A drop in adverse drug events saved 11,500 lives.
- Fewer falls by patients saved 6,400 lives.
- Bloodstream infections associated with central line catheters declined 44 percent.
- The incidence of some surgical-site infections fell by as much as 20 percent.
- $12 billion in health care spending was conserved.
- Readmission rates for Medicare patients decreased.
We Can Help
Nevertheless, there are still far too many people annually whose health is made worse by medical mistakes. If you are one of those people, or if you have any questions about this topic and whether you may have been harmed by your hospital stay, feel free to contact us by calling 305-643-3100 or filling out a free case evaluation form. A mistake or omission that happens during medical treatment and leads to a patient's injury is unacceptable. Since 1970, the Miami medical malpractice attorneys at Stabinski and Funt, P.A. have been putting their experience to work and helping innocent people recover financial compensation for the damage done to them. We encourage you to contact us to discuss your unique situation.
DISCLAIMER: The information about past verdicts and settlements is based on the unique facts of each case. Every case is different, and future cases may not achieve the same or similar results. These amounts reflect the gross recovery (before attorneys’ fees and expenses are deducted).