Our Chicago medical malpractice lawyers work each day on behalf of victims who have been injured because of mistakes made by hospital professionals. This is probably why we understand the frequency with which these errors occur in our area and throughout the country. However, new data comparing actual hospital performance figures and patient perception figures indicate that many community members remain unaware of the frequency of poor medical care. In this way, unless they are personally affected, area residents are often unaware how many instances of Illinois medical malpractice strike each and every day.
This weekend USA Today discussed the disconnect that often exists between reported rates of problems and patient perception of medical care. Many hospitals which received top marks for care according to patients were actually those with high heart attack death rates, heart failure figures, and pneumonia complications. The lack of congruency between the reported care and statistical performance was culled from an analysis of Medicare data.
The director of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services explained how the new information is an important reminder of the challenge of relying on patient perception data. It is also further reinforcement of the need to provide patients with access to information about the performance of their local hospital on neutral indicators of healthcare quality. Our Illinois medical malpractice lawyers have long explained the benefits of having public disclosure of healthcare data. Otherwise, patients remain in the dark about how different facilities rate on different indicators of patient safety and well-being. Beyond mere cursory impressions based on their own observations, patients can make much more informed decisions if they understand how a hospital is performing on indictors like infection rates or preventable death statistics.
While some disagreement remains over the different methods of measuring hospital quality, virtually all experts agree that there are many valid ways to accurately identify hospital quality and performance. For example, nearly one in fourteen hospitals were found to have above-average death rates for heart attack victims or those that develop pneumonia. Hospital safety advocates can use the information to more specifically investigate actions by those particular facilities to identify possible causes of the problems and ways to improve care.
This information remains a vital resource for federal regulators, insurers, and patients. In our area, as throughout the country, advocates continue to battle with big medical interests who seek to hide the frequency with which Illinois medical malpractice occurs. However, as patient safety experts have repeatedly noted, without public awareness of these figures, there is often little incentive for these facilities to enact changes to improve their care. As with all other industries, those seeking services should be able to measure the varying levels of quality among potential competitors.
There is no logical reason why hospitals should be excluded from the basic requirement of accountability. Quality facilities and medical professionals should have little to fear from public disclosure of honest information about their operations. There is no industry upon which quality matters more to average community members than in the medical context. Life and death often hinges on that quality, and so patients should have as much information as possible about that quality.
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