A medical study was released this week which again emphasized the need to improve patient care at hospitals across the county. As reported in Oregon Live, an analysis of self-reporting by the state’s Patient Safety Commission recently identified thirty two patients who died in their hospitals last year alone due to preventable medical errors. These represent thirty two individuals with an extended network of suffering family and friends who all would have been spared extreme heartache and pain if only the hospitals they visited would have given them the basic standard of care they deserved.
A closer look at the medical errors in the report indicates even more troubling news. On nine different occasions a surgeon operated on the wrong body or the wrong patient. Twenty one times doctors performing surgery left physical objects inside the patient after the procedure. These two types of medical errors in particular represent an egregious failing of the medical professional to provide even the most basic components of proper medical care.
Simple safety checks would eliminate these types of mistakes completely. However, the problems persist. For example, the number of surgeries where doctors leave objects in the body has remained steady for nearly the last eight years. The head of the commission that issued the report noted, “There is no indication that it’s [the mistake rate] going down, which is frustrating. Oregon is not unique there. It’s a stubborn problem.”
The records indicate that these numbers of medical mistakes are about equal to the national average based on percentage of patient load. That means that the number of these mistakes increase dramatically in states with bigger populations, like Illinois.
On top of that, the numbers released in this study are likely to be far lower than the true number of preventable medical errors, because the study represents only the mistakes admitting openly by the hospital. A neutral outside analysis of medical mistakes virtually always finds more problems than are self-reported. For example, while hospitals in the state admitted nine hospital borne infections last year, a neutral state commission found seventy five infections. That means that the hospitals themselves reported only one in every eight mistakes.
Decades of experiences in legal battles fighting for patient rights have made clear to our Chicago medical malpractice attorneys at Levin & Perconti that hospitals will refuse to admit their problems or provide a legal remedy to patients that they injure. Because of that, the only way to truly hold hospitals accountable for their medical mistakes is to utilize every legal step available to force negligent professionals to recognize their substandard care.