Recently in Medication Errors Category

September 20, 2010

$55.6 Billion Spent on Medical Malpractice Lawsuits in the U.S. in 2008

Medical Malpractice.jpgIn 2008, the cost of health care was $2.3 trillion, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. That averages out to about $7,681.00 per person. The U.S. spent nearly $55.6 billion on medical malpractice lawsuits and defensive medicine, which represents about 2.4% of the entire budget. Defensive medicine however, made up about $45.6 billion of that, meaning that only $10 billion was spent on medical malpractice lawsuits in 2008.

Defensive medicine is defined as medical tests and procedures performed to avoid medical malpractice liability and not to improve the patient's health.

Researchers for the journal Health Affairs, published by the Harvard School of Public Health in September 2010, found that attempting to reduce the number of medical malpractice lawsuits would result in only a negligible effect on the cost of health care, and reducing the cost of defensive medicine would do little more.

If we could improve the quality of health care in the United States, we would be saving a lot of money a year. By improving the quality of health care, we would reduce the need for medical malpractice lawsuits and costs, such as longer hospitalizations due to hospital acquired infections and pneumonia, bedsores, and wrong site surgeries, all of which are avoidable medical problems.

May 27, 2010

Medical Malpractice Reform

medical malpractice 2.jpgThe medical malpractice system exists so that patients injured by the negligence of medical personnel can sue for their injuries. To date, it is the only opportunity for victims of medical malpractice to address their injuries in a legal and meaningful matter.

Medical malpractice lawsuits do not drive up healthcare costs. In fact, the present system saves thousands of additional patients from avoidable deaths and it provides fair compensation to those affected.

About 44,000 to 98,000 people die as a result of medical malpractice each year, according to the Institute of Medicine. These deaths can be avoided. Medical errors by health care personnel need to be prevented in order to lower this alarming number of deaths.

Tort reform may actually harm patients by focusing on costs over patient safety. In addition, the award caps that want to be implemented can also put a maximum price on a person's potential for injury compensation. This would pull some attorneys toward certain cases with higher damage caps and away from other malpractice lawsuits with less monetary value, ultimately harming many of those who truly need legal representation and financial help with continuing medical costs. This in turn does not provide a solution to the health care crisis in the United States. These limits to medical malpractice litigation instead, try to curb legal rights and costly verdicts, but do not address the prevention of medical errors.

Patients have a duty to keep better track of their own medical histories and review their medical records. Doctors also need to be questioned about anything unfamiliar or that seems unnecessary.

Victims of medical negligence deserve their day in court. They need financial compensation for their injuries and future healthcare costs and needs. If you or someone you know has been a victim of medical negligence, contact a medical malpractice attorney to discuss your legal rights and options.

April 29, 2010

Medical Errors Are Costly and On the Rise

Research has shown that medical errors may result most frequently from system errors. One out of 25 patients in hospitals are injured due to medical errors, and an estimated 48,000 to 98,000 patients die from these errors a year. Even if you consider the lower estimate of 48,000 errors a year, it is still higher than the annual mortality from motor vehicle accidents (43,458), breast cancer (42,297), or even AIDS (16,516), thus making medical errors the eighth leading cause of death in the United States. These errors, besides causing death, have also cost the economy from $17 to $29 billion each year and cost more that $5 million a year in large teaching hospitals, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

For Patients at Risk, Medical errors may result in the following:

- A patient being given the wrong medicine
- A clinician misreading the results of a test
- An elderly person that shows up to an emergency room with ambiguous systems, such as: shortness of breath, abdominal pain and dizziness, whose heat attack is not diagnosed by the medical staff

How Errors Occur:
- Medication Errors:
These are preventable mistakes in the prescribing and delivering of medications to a patient, these errors include: prescribing two or more drugs whose interaction is known to produce side effects or prescribing a drug to which the patient is allergic to.
- Surgical Errors
- Diagnostic Inaccuracies:
This leads to ineffective treatment and/or unnecessary testing, which is costly and can be invasive to the patient.
- System Failures:
This is the way health care is delivered and the way that resources are provided to the delivery system.

Medical Mistakes are also made by distracted nurses. It is believed that if medical facilities had more nursing staff that could focus their attention on fewer tasks at a time that medical mistakes would decrease, patient safety increase and it would reduce the risk of medical malpractice. When nurses are interrupted, it increases the chance of a procedural failure by 12.1%, and the chances of a clinical error by 12.7%, as indicated by the Archives of Internal Medicine study published in Australia in 2008.