Hospital Errors Result in 15,000 Deaths Each Month

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Inspector General recently issued a report that included very troubling conclusions. The report was based on a random sampling of the billing of 780 Medicare beneficiaries who were treated in October 2008. The findings concluded that 1 in 7 Medicare patients suffered harm because of their medical care while hospitalized.

As explained in this Palm Beach post article, the report concluded that:

(M)edical care is contributing to around 15,000 deaths per month nationwide and costing taxpayers about $4.4 billion a year.

The report called on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to toughen penalties for hospitals that provide substandard care rather than rewarding them with increased billings.

The report also included recommendations to reduce the number of preventable medical errors and negative outcomes, including:

  • following hand-washing protocols
  • more careful administration of medications
  • better training for medical students prior to allowing them to inserting central lines into chemotherapy patients

Easily preventable medical errors are some of the most frustrating for patients and their loved ones. When a serious infection could have been prevented if health care personnel had simply followed hand-washing procedures, it’s difficult to turn the other cheek.

Hopefully this report’s findings and recommendations will encourage hospitals to better enforce preventative measures already in place and to adopt new measures to further ensure the safety of patients. Doing so will result in better outcomes for patients and less medical malpractice lawsuits for the hospitals. A win-win for everyone involved!

Howard Ankin of Ankin Law Office LLC (www.ankinlaw.com) handles workers’ compensation and personal injury cases. Mr. Ankin can be reached at (312) 346-8780 and howard@ankinlaw.com.