According to a new hospital report, deadly medical errors have declined
in hospitals, a benefit that may have saved 87,000 lives since 2010. Identifying
the reasons for the improvement presents a challenge, but many analysts
believe initiatives within the Affordable Care Act have played an important
role. If these experts are correct, it means Obamacare has prevented deaths
due to human error.
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, which issued the report, has tracked medical errors since 2010. It found
that 121 of 1,000 patients who experienced hospital stays in 2014 suffered
hospital-acquired conditions (HAC) that resulted from error. While this
rate equals that of the previous year, it shows a 17 percent improvement
over the HAC rate of 145 in 2010. Based on research, the report translates
the decline in HAC to the saving of 87,000 lives.
Doctors are aware that many people die every year due to preventable mistakes.
However, getting hospitals to adopt practices that reduce medical errors
has been difficult partly because existing financial incentives failed
to reward physicians and hospital staff for improving quality. Since patients
who get sick due to an error require longer hospitalizations that result
in more revenue, the financial incentives perversely can reward poor care.
The Affordable Care Act sought to reverse this system that puts patients
at risk. Due to penalties the law created, Medicare pays less to hospitals
with higher rates of readmissions, HAC and injuries. In addition, the
government awards extra funds to medical institutions that agree to implement
quality-enhancing measures. Experts don’t know the full impact of
these reforms yet, but the steep decline suggests they have led to better
To learn how doctors feel about medical errors, see
Doctors Stress Over Medical Errors (And So Does Everyone Else).
If someone you love suffered an injury or illness due to someone else’s
inaction or wrongdoing, our
Washington D.C. medical malpractice attorneys can help you seek compensation effectively.