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Hospital Errors

Hospital Error Claims

Louisville Hospital Error Attorney Brett Oppenheimer

Medical errors put the health of Americans at risk. Estimates show there are between 210,000 and 440,000 patient deaths per year as the result of medical mistakes. Many more patients suffer long term injury, health consequences, and financial burdens resulting from medical errors. Additionally, the healthcare industry sees tremendous financial repercussions from medical errors to the tune of approximately $19 billion per year. Patient advocacy groups, the government, and the healthcare industry are realizing that many of these errors are preventable. Together, they are trying to address strategies to improve the quality of healthcare for all Americans.

The Partnership for Patients initiative was founded in 2011 as part of The Affordable Care Act. Its mission is to make hospitals safer, more reliable, and less expensive for the public sector. This partnership is formed of representatives from hospitals, doctor groups, nursing groups, consumer groups, and employers. They have identified the 9 most common hospital acquired conditions and have presented a challenge to the medical community to come up with solutions to eliminate or substantially reduce medical errors that result in needless deaths, injury, suffering, and financial waste.

The 9 Most Common Medical Errors in Hospitals

  1. Adverse Drug Effects – Medical mistakes frequently occur when patients are given incorrect medicines, incorrect dosages, or experience drug interactions or allergic reactions. Errors also occur when patients are not properly monitored after receiving prescription drugs. Hospitals can help address these risks by better use of electronic health records, more pharmacist involvement during hospital stays, the use of “smart” pumps, and improved monitoring of high-risk medications.
  2. Catheter-Associated Urinary Tract Infections – Patients often suffer urinary tract infections as a result of having a urinary catheter (a device that draws urine from the bladder) for too long. Hospitals should be diligent in the sterility of conditions when inserting, using, and removing catheters in patients. Doctors and nurses should also assess the patient to determine if a catheter is necessary and should consider reducing the time a patient uses a catheter.
  3. Central Line-Associated Blood Stream Infections – According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, there are between 84,000 and 203,000 preventable bloodstream infections occurring each year from catheters that are placed into a vein in the neck, chest, or groin. Infections can be reduced dramatically by simple hand hygiene, better use of caps, masks, gowns, and gloves when administering catheters, using chlorhexidine in skin preparations, and more diligent monitoring of central lines.
  4. Injuries from Falls and Immobility – The U.S. National Library of Medicine estimates that nearly one million patients suffer falls in hospitals each year. Falls can further complicate injuries or cause new injuries, resulting in pain, suffering, and extended hospital stays. Hospitals can minimize risk by identifying high-risk patients on the front end and individualizing their care. Hospitals can help to make call lights easily accessible, have portable alarms for high-risk patients, keep equipment (such as beds, walkers, and wheelchairs) well maintained, by using night lights, and working with patients to schedule bathroom visits. Doctors and hospital staff should also consider bed rails, lowered beds, padding, etc.
  5. Obstetrical Adverse Events – Childbirth is one of the most common reasons for hospital care, and, consequently, childbirth represents a high percentage of adverse events. Hospital staff, doctors, and nurses can reduce medical errors in this area in many ways, such as the proper use and dosage of oxytocin (labor induction drug), the proper management and use of Fetal Heart Rate Monitoring technology, decreasing the practice of elective delivery of babies less than 39 weeks, prompt treatment of obstetric hemorrhage (or any bleeding), and the timely use of C-Sections when medically necessary.
  6. Pressure Ulcers (Bedsores) – A pressure ulcer is formed when muscles and soft tissues press against a surface for too long, resulting in blood supply being cut off and producing skin lesions. Bedsores can be dramatically reduced by using the correct mattresses and linens, routine turning and repositioning of the patient, addressing incontinence issues, and even proper nutrition and hydration.
  7. Surgical Site Infections – Nearly 3% of all surgeries result in surgical site infections. The rate of infections can be impacted by many hospital procedures such as sanitized hand preparation, prophylactic antibiotic use, minimizing blood transfusions, and identifying MRSA patients prior to surgery and treating appropriately.
  8. Venous Thrombosis/Embolism – The formation of a blood clot in a patient is extremely dangerous. Hospitals can be more proactive in identifying high-risk patients and utilizing pharmaceuticals and other medical devices in an effort to prevent blood clots. Doctors can reduce unnecessary central venous catheters, which can increase the chances of vein thrombosis. If central venous catheters are medically necessary, then ensuring proper use, monitoring, and removal of catheters is a must.
  9. Ventilator-Associated Pneumonia – Patients who require breathing assistance during and after surgery are at an escalated risk of developing lung infections. Medical personnel should work to decrease the utilization and duration of time a person is on a ventilator. Recommendations also include improvement in oral cleaning and decontamination of the patient, proper head elevation of the patient, and routine draining of the ventilator tubing.

Filing Lawsuits After Medical Errors

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