Experts speak out about medical errors

Residents in New York may benefit from learning more about the statements of concern health experts expressed to Congress on July 17. Multiple experts in the health care industry told members of the Senate Subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging that one of the primary causes of the alarmingly high rate of preventable deaths from hospital mistakes is inaccurate reporting by public health agencies.

A professor at Harvard School of Public Health claimed that patients are just as at risk of suffering a death caused by medical error today as they were 15 years ago. The chairman of the panel, Sen Bernie Sanders from Vermont, noted that most patients are probably unaware that preventable deaths caused by medical error is the third largest cause of deaths in America each year. The president of the National Patient Safety Foundation cited research indicating 25 percent of all patients are at risk of suffering injuries from a drug, adverse drug effects or medication errors within the first month of receiving a prescription.

Some physicians asserted that the Center of Disease Control and Prevention should start monitoring other medical harms aside from hospital-acquired infections. The president of the NPSF also claimed that delayed and missed diagnoses are the leading causes of malpractice suits involving outpatients. One scientist approximates the number of deaths from hospital mistakes in the United States to total 400,000 annually, equating to more than 1,000 per day.

Patients who suspect their injuries or pain and suffering are due to medical errors made by the hospital, staff or physician may benefit from meeting with a lawyer as soon as possible. Legal counsel may be able to investigate the assertions and reveal whether or not the standard of care was upheld or if the resulting damages were caused by negligence.

Source: NPR, "Health Safety Experts Call For Public Reporting Of Medical Harms", Marshall Allen, July 18, 2014

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