1 in 5 Hospital Patients Are Victims of Medical Injuries

A study conducted over six years and involving 2,341 hospital admissions in North Carolina has revealed that 18 percent of patients were subject to at least one safety-related issue, said Bloomberg.com. With <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/practice_areas/medical_malpractice">hospital injuries ranging the gamut from minor problems to dangerous mistakes and even 14 fatalities, it seems as if there has been no improvement by industry and no moves by the government to improve safety, noted Bloomberg.com.

The study looked at 10 hospitals in the United States and revealed that there was no decrease in injuries from 2002 to 2007, said Bloomberg.com. The study appears in today’s New England Journal of Medicine.

Following a 1999 report issued by the Institute of Medicine in which it was discovered that medical errors led to a shocking 98,000 deaths and in excess of one million injuries, hospitals in North Carolina have worked to improve these figures, said Bloomberg.com. Despite that North Carolina is considered ahead of the curve in steps aimed at improving patient safety, the figures remain daunting.

Christopher Landrigan, a researcher at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston who led the study said, “The rate is high, but it’s not higher than we expected,” quoted Bloomberg.com, citing a November 23 telephone interview. “The main point is things are not getting better. This is a wake-up call for the health-care system to address this issue in a more timely fashion,” Landrigan added.

Landrigan led the team from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, an affiliate of Harvard Medical School; California’s Stanford University Medical School; and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, which is, said Bloomberg.com, a nonprofit research and advocacy group in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The team looked at medical records from January 2002 and at 10 hospitals chosen at random, according to Landrigan, explained Bloomberg.com.

“Obviously, one harm to one patient is more than we would like to see,” Don Dalton, a spokesman for the trade group North Carolina Hospital Association, which represents about 128 hospitals and health systems, quoted Bloomberg.com. “We are proud of the efforts that our hospitals have made across the board to improve their quality,” added Dalton.

The study revealed 588 injuries involving 423 patients, with some experiencing multiple injuries, 50 classified as life-threatening, 17 causing permanent harm, and 14 causing death, said the team, reported Bloomberg.com.

In related news, we recently wrote that Parkland Memorial Hospital allegedly harms some two patients daily, harming them seriously, according to the Dallas News. Part of the issue, said The Dallas News, involves a negative impact on patient safety when doctors are being trained at public teaching hospitals, such as Parkland where residence surgeons tend to receive more latitude, especially in post-op care. “We harm two patients a day in a significant way,” said the report issued by Parkland’s patient safety officer, Dr. Angelique Ramirez, quoted The Dallas News. Data included patient information from October 2008 through December 2009 who suffered “prolongation of hospital stay, need for ICU care, permanent harm, or death,” said the report. As a matter-of-fact, citing one three-month period, the vast majority—74 percent—of these outcomes were described on the report as “potentially preventable.”

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