Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.

Preventable medical mistakes

Preventable medical mistakes are far more common than most patients realize. A 2012 study from Johns Hopkins University estimates that approximately 11 preventable surgical errors occur every day in hospitals throughout the nation. Surgical mistakes are just the tip of the iceberg according to the Leapfrog Hospital Survey, a public reporting initiative that uses national performance measures to review hospital competencies.

Surgical and nonsurgical errors account for 200 preventable medical errors every day among hospitalized Medicare beneficiaries alone. If that trend were extrapolated to include all hospitalized patients, the number of preventable medical errors would likely be much larger. The Leapfrog Group has a nickname for such errors: "never events."

In the past few years, Medicare has toughened its reporting procedures, and now requires hospitals to divulge statistics on some of the most common preventable medical errors including: foreign objects left in the body during surgical procedures; air bubbles in the vascular system (air embolism); open or suppurating bedsores; falls and other types of trauma; collapsed lung secondary to medical procedures; post-surgical respiratory failure; post-operative pulmonary emboli and deep vein thromboses; post-operative wound separations and wounds and other trauma resulting from medical interventions.

The Leapfrog Group has graded hospitals according these standards and publicized the mistakes for over 2,500 hospitals. Some hospitals have much higher incidences of these preventable medical errors than others. The American Hospital Association is lobbying to prevent the disclosure of this type of information. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, however, have announced that they will keep reporting statistics on preventable medical errors, at least through the end of 2013. A medical malpractice attorney may be able to help patients who have been injured as a result of a preventable medical error.

Source: Forbes, "Bone-chilling mistakes hospitals make and why they don't want you to know", Leah Binder, July 15, 2013

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Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.
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