Given the unbearable costs hospital errors exact on our nation’s
sick and injured population every year, it’s sometimes hard to muster
optimism. However, a December 2014 report published by the Department
of Health and Human Services suggests that medical workers and hospital
safety experts may
finally be winning the battle – or at least turning the tide.
- The report said that “hospital acquired conditions” (e.g. staph
infections caught in a hospital ER) declined over a three year period
by 17 percent.
- Medical errors, meanwhile, declined in practically every category.
- IV blood infections, for instance, declined by almost 50 percent.
- Bedsore ulcers — a plague that visits bedridden patients who are
not moved frequently enough — declined by 20 percent.
- Pharmaceutical errors also declined by nearly 20 percent.
The timeframe of the report covers 2010 to 2013.
In 1999, the Institute of Medicine found that such errors killed approximately
98,000 people a year in the United States. Later analysis determined that
number could be much higher.
Some analysts credit the decrease in errors to the Affordable Care Act
(a.k.a. “Obamacare”), which incentivizes hospitals through
the “Partnership for Patients” program. This policy has been
associated with a reduction in re-admissions (by 18 percent as of early
2014). A pilot program run at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City found
that a similar incentive system led to a drastic cut in re-admissions
by over 40 percent.
However, an analysis published in 2012 in the New England Journal of Medicine
suggested that government incentives do not necessarily correlate with
decline in certain hospital infections.
Hopefully, researchers will analyze this progress more carefully and help
us uncover how to make hospitals safer and less error-prone.
D.C. medical malpractice attorneys can help you and your family understand your potential case options. Call
us today for a free consultation.