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Medical Mistakes Continue, Patient Safety Remains a Concern

When someone goes to the hospital, it is usually because they are suffering from a medical condition that requires attention and care. But sometimes a patient in the hospital suffers harm at the hands of their doctor or nursing staff.

Medical malpractice is becoming an increasing concern across the nation, especially after a study for the New England Journal of Medicine showed that patients were still being injured and harmed at hospitals. The study focused on 10 hospitals to determine whether patient safety was improving.

Unfortunately, the study found that even with a focus on patient safety, the number of medical mistakes was not decreasing. In many of the cases, the mistakes were preventable.

The statistics are somewhat frightening. In the hospitals that were studied, it was found that for every 100 patients admitted, there were 25 injuries caused by medical care. While many of those injuries are non-fatal, there are instances where hospital mistakes have resulted in patient death.

Most Common Medical Mistakes that Cause Injury or Death

The study recognized several problems that were causing patients additional harm:

  • Severe bleeding, both during an operation and after
  • Infection from inserted medical devices
  • Injuries from slip-and-fall incidents
  • Receiving either too much or too little of a prescribed drug
  • Organ failure or brain damage following a surgical procedure

While the study only focused on a regional group of hospitals, the concern still exists for hospitals across the country. Typically a hospital will decide for itself whether to report errors in patient treatment. That means that the actual number of hospital errors is likely much higher than what is publicly known.

Patient safety should be one of the top priorities for hospitals. And while things won't change overnight, more steps should be taken to ensure that these types of mistakes are prevented.

Source: The New York Times online, "Study Finds No Progress in Safety at Hospitals," Denise Grady, 24 November 2010

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