Patients Beware: Medical Errors and Hospital Infections


Two recent articles demonstrate the incredible dangers of hospitalization for any condition. Unfortunately, hospital-acquired infection cases are rarely actionable in court, due to the difficulty in proving that the infection came about due to negligence rather than due to unpreventable forces. This mentality by health care providers is slowly changing, however, as the cost of treating infections becomes over-burdensome. 

The sad reality in Texas is that most victims of bad medical care are left with no way to obtain compensation. The Legislature and courts have left no remedy other than a complaint to the Texas Medical Board, which is ineffective at best, but can occasionally stop a dangerous physician.

You’ll find excerpts below. Click titles to read full articles. – PFS

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How Many Die From Medical Mistakes in U.S. Hospitals?
by Marshall Allen, NPR
September 20, 2013

Excerpt:
…In 1999, the Institute of Medicine published the famous “To Err Is Human” report, which dropped a bombshell on the medical community by reporting that up to 98,000 people a year die because of mistakes in hospitals. The number was initially disputed, but is now widely accepted by doctors and hospital officials — and quoted ubiquitously in the media.

In 2010, the Office of Inspector General for the Department Health and Human Services said that bad hospital care contributed to the deaths of 180,000 patients in Medicare alone in a given year.

Now comes a study in the current issue of the Journal of Patient Safety that says the numbers may be much higher — between 210,000 and 440,000 patients each year who go to the hospital for care suffer some type of preventable harm that contributes to their death.

That would make medical errors the third-leading cause of death in America, behind heart disease, which is the first, and cancer, which is second.

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Study: Hospital Infections Cost $9.8 Billion a Year
CBS News
September 2, 2013

Excerpt:
Americans could save billions of dollars in health care costs each year if hospitals did a better job of curbing preventable infections, according to a new study.

Research released today by JAMA Internal Medicine found that infections acquired during the course of medical treatment cost $9.8 billion annually. Researchers reviewed published data from 1998 through April 2013 and adjusted the costs for inflation in 2012 dollars.

The problem is so common that it has its own acronym: healthcare-associated infections, or HAI.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated in 2009 that one out of 20 hospital patients comes down with an HAI during the course of their treatment.