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Medical Mistake Deaths Reviewed to Improve Patient Care at Group of Hospitals

One health authority is proactively taking steps to understand its mistakes of the past to ensure that future patient care is improved. The Winnipeg Free Press reported on the mortality review conducted by the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority which examined the recurring themes found in an analysis of deaths in the area. The years-long study ultimately concluded that medical care could have been better in virtually half of the deaths.

Specifically, 44% of deaths resulted from one of 17 identified themes, including severe blood poisoning and procedural complications. The review of nearly 2,900 patient deaths found that nearly 300 resulted from hospital acquired infections (like pneumonia), nearly 200 from failure to promptly identify a patient problem, 188 from complications during patient transfer, and another 126 involving problems like falls and bedsores.

Our Chicago medical malpractice lawyers have personally worked with many families who have lost loved ones to problematic medical care leading to just these sorts of issues. It is commendable for a health regulatory body to conduct a systematic analysis of past mistakes in an effort to understand the best ways to improve the quality of care at their facilities. It is the first step in making changes that will save countless lives.

As workers on the study explained, “You could only learn so much by examining one case in detail. There is potential for learning when you have a cluster of cases that come together and you look at them as a whole.”

All of this was sparked by a study which found that hospital deaths at these facilities were slightly above average. Previously, investigations into the causes of death occurred only when it was labeled a “critical incident.” But this latest comprehensive study examined the large swath of cases that are not officially labeled as such but represent similar traces of medical mistakes.

Overall, the study provided many specific examples of patient care that was far below that which any reasonable medical facility would be expected to provide. For example, one patient was transferred within and between hospitals 6 different times in a single day-dying shortly after the 6th transfer. In another case, a patient with signs of an abdomen emergency was required to wait over an hour and fifteen minutes before seeing a physician. The developing complications took his life shortly after.