Recent research has shown that diagnostic errors were the most common basis for successful medical malpractice claims from 1986 to 2010. A study of such claims in the National Practitioner Data Bank revealed that incorrect, missed or delayed diagnoses made up 29 percent of the nearly 350,000 successful malpractice claims filed during that period. The study was conducted by neurologists at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and appears in BMJ Quality & Safety.
According to a study appearing in the Journal of the American Medical Association, surgical errors can greatly increase the profit margin for the hospitals where they are committed. The research was conducted using data from more than 34,000 surgical patients who were operated on in selected Texas hospitals in 2010. The study looked at Medicare patients, privately insured patients, Medicaid patients, patients who paid out of pocket and patients using other forms of payment.
March 4 through March 10 is National Patient Safety Awareness Week. The initiative is led by the National Patient Safety Foundation and focuses on an issue that affects hundreds of thousands of Americans every year. According to the Patient Safety in American Hospitals Study, conducted by HealthGrades Inc., there were more than 200,000 potentially preventable deaths suffered by Medicare patients last year. This theme of this year's Patient Safety Awareness Week is "Be Aware for Safe Care." The theme highlights the importance of educating patients and helping them be engaged in the care they receive. Patient engagement is an important factor in the quality of care received and in the outcome of the course of treatment.
A Pennsylvania study has revealed an increase in the number of errors associated with the use of electronic health records. Between 2004 and 2011, hospitals in that state reported 3,099 total incidents related to faulty electronic health records. Of those, 1,142 occurred in 2011. That was nearly double the total reported for 2010. The data did indicate that the vast majority of the errors did not lead to patient harm.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently released a study showing a significant rise in the number of emergencies during delivery and severe complications in the days after delivery from 1999 to 2009. Life-threatening complications during delivery rose 75 percent while severe post-delivery complications more than doubled. The lead author of the study referred to the results as a "clarion call" for medical professionals to address maternal complications.
A survey sponsored by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America looked into the treatment recommended by primary care and emergency physicians for anaphylaxis. The survey identified "likely deficiencies" in the knowledge of how to treat the condition and keep it from recurring. Anaphylaxis is an allergic reaction that reaches life-threatening severity. It sets on quickly, generally within seconds or minutes of exposure to an allergen. If not treated quickly, it often leads to unconsciousness and even death.
Leapfrog Group is a nonprofit organization based in Washington D.C. that helps employers and other health care purchasers by gathering and disseminating data about the quality of available health care. The group recently released a report card that identifies which hospitals present the most hazardous environments for patients in terms of preventable medical errors and other injuries. The report card assigns facilities a grade, from A through F, to give consumers an easily understood representation of hospital quality.
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality is seeking approval for a new method by which patients can report medical mistakes. Federal officials explained that unreported medical errors are a lost opportunity to make health care safer. Unless hospitals choose to report their own errors, information that could be used to reduce infections, improve surgical practices and otherwise enhance the quality of health care is often lost.
According to the Institute of Medicine, medical mistakes cost the U.S. health care system between $17 and $29 billion a year. It estimates that medical errors kill nearly 2,000 people per week. New technology and, potentially, new attitudes among rising doctors could greatly reduce medical malpractice and make the health care system safer for everyone, according to surgeon Marty Makary. According to Dr. Makary, secrecy among medical professionals and hospitals must be overcome before the industry can improve its dismal record of safety.
A new study has analyzed medical errors affecting children who have been hospitalized. The medical error rate for children who suffer a chronic health condition was significantly higher than that for children who do not. The result of the study was expected, as chronic health conditions are likely to force a child to remain hospitalized for longer periods and may complicate the treatment of the child. Still, it is important for parents of children with chronic health conditions to understand that the risk of a medical mistake is elevated.