The Facts Behind CA Senator Boxer's Medical Negligence Report
9 Shockingly Common Types of Medical Negligence and Errors
A recent report released by US Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) has unveiled some frightening statistics about medical negligence that should have you concerned about the quality of your medical care and the potential for dangerous errors.
Boxer had her staff research common medical errors and discovered the list of nine we’ll discuss below. These medical errors kill between 210,000-440,000 people in the hospital each year and many thousands more die as a result of medical errors outside of the hospital setting as well.
Boxer’s report equates this to a jumbo jet crash every day with no survivors and is an apt way to envision just how serious medical errors are and how many lives they take. Most of these errors are preventable given adequate and reasonable care from medical professionals.
If you suspect you have been a victim of medical errors or negligent care, it’s critical to get legal help early. The medical establishment is well versed and well funded with systems in place to ensure you feel like it’s normal.
At the least, get a free consultation with Mr. Kornfeld by calling (425) 657-5255 or emailing him for a quick consultation by email.
#1 Medication errors
An Institute of Medicine study estimated that more than 1.5 million patients suffer adverse outcomes from medication errors while in hospital, long term care and among Medicare patients. This doesn’t include undiscovered errors and those outside of the settings listed.
Medication errors are caused most often by human error (46.5%),miscommunication (35%) and name confusion (18.4%). Anothergovernment study of in-hospital medication errors showed that 18% of patients suffered permanent harm, 48% had near-death experiences and 23% of patients died.
#2 Urinary tract infections from catheters
15%-25% of hospital patients are catheterized and if not properly inserted, maintained or removed, can cause serious infections. This is one of the most common types of infectionsduring hospital stays. Women and older patients are most likely to suffer this type of medical error.
Catheter trauma is one of the most common causes of this type of infection and can result from careless insertion of the catheter or improper maintenance of the catheter once it’s inserted. Left untreated, this type of infection can spread to the kidneys and destroy their functionality.
#3 Central line blood stream infections
A central line is a catheter that is run through the arm or leg and into a large vein in the chest, neck or groin. These are often used when a patient will need ongoing medication, fluids, blood transfusions, etc over a longer period of time.
Each year, more than 40,000 of these infections occur and can greatly increase the chance of fatality. A patient who suffers a central line infection has a 12%-25% chance of dying.
Medical errors that can cause a central line infection include improper sterile field during surgery, improper maintenance of the line and failure to sterilize the area, among others.
#4 Injuries from falls
As many as one million patients fall each year during a hospital stay leading to cuts, bruises, broken bones, internal bleeding and/or head injuries. Roughly one-third of these falls are fully preventable. Patients that are on strong medication, are disoriented or who have coordination issues have high fall risks.
When care professionals fail to address, monitor and recognize these issues, they put patients at risk. Failure to set bed alarms for high-risk patients and failure to respond to nurse call bell in a timely manner are common medical errors.
#5 Obstetrical events
Obstetrical medical errors put the life of both the mother and the unborn child at risk. Some of the most common issues are early elective delivery (inducing the pregnant mother to deliver before term) and elective cesarean section. Introducing labor prior to 39 weeks of gestation for no legitimate medical reason is a poor practice that leads to poor outcomes.
Death rates associated with pregnancy and delivery have risen in the US over the last few years. Communication errors, infections, and post-delivery hemorrhage are just a few of the risks. Delivery errors alsoharm and kill newborns.
#6 Pressure ulcers
This is commonly called a bed sore and is caused by continual pressure on the skin and tissue under it. It most often occurs in bed-ridden patients and is an almost wholly preventable medical error that causes infection, pain and even death.
Improper cleaning of skin, failure to turn or reposition patients with mobility problems and failure to timely diagnose and treat bed sores are all issues that can lead to this condition. While bed sores themselves do not usually cause fatality, they can contribute to an overall decline in the patient’s condition.
#7 Surgical site infections
Health care associated infections kill more people each year than breast cancer, AIDS and car accidents combined and are largely preventable or reversible. Infections where a patient had surgery are the most common type of health care infections.
A CDC study calculated that approximately 2% of surgeries will result in this type of infection and 3% of these patients will die from the infection. Infections can develop within a couple of days after a surgery or develop as late as several weeks after the procedure. These are most common when surgery is performed on areas with more germs such as the gut.
#8 Venous thromboembolism
This long phrase covers two types of blood clots that can kill patients and is the most common type of preventable hospital death. Deep vein thrombosis is when a blood clot forms in a deep vein such as in the leg or pelvis. If it travels to the lungs, it’s called a pulmonary embolism. Without timely diagnosis and treatment, a pulmonary embolism carries a roughly 30% risk of death.
Deep vein thrombosis can cause excessive swelling of the limb and lead to gangrene that requires the removal of the limb. Failure to recognize risk factors and symptoms are medical errors associated with this condition.
#9 Ventilator-associated pneumonia
A ventilator is a device that helps a patient breathe by forcing oxygen into their lungs when they cannot properly breathe on their own. Pneumonia strikes nearly 30% of critically ill patients and ventilator use is a major cause of this illness. Death occurs in up to 50% of these cases.
Medical care that falls below the reasonable standard of care is a risk factor that can contribute to the development of this condition and/or failure to diagnose and treat the condition in a timely manner.
If you or a loved one have suffered any of these types of poor medical outcomes, you may have been the victim of medical malpractice or medical negligence. When patients have poor outcomes, physicians will very rarely acknowledge that they made a mistake or accept accountability for the damage that was done to you or your loved one.