Hospital Errors Too Common due to Doctor Deficiencies

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Posted on May 16, 2014

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The high rates of hospital errors and preventable medical mistakes is something that we have talked about before. One would think that since these errors are being reported on so much that we would see some change. There are measures that have been taken like, the federal government's error-reporting systems, that have been developed to address the problem.

But these measures are not working - or not working well enough. American hospitals still have a big problem with unnecessary deaths due to medical errors. The number of deaths may vary depending on where the information is being reported from, but the numbers are still alarmingly high. Over 100,000 people die every year, reported the NYTimes, due to medical errors made by health-care providers.

In that article, Dr. Levitt, a retired neurosurgeon, said he began to implement certain systems at his hospital. The systems he put in place were basically a standardized routine for patient care. For example, no matter what hospital or patient, every heart attack victim is given aspirin when entering the hospital; every surgical patient is given antibiotics just before an operation, etc.

But Dr. Levitt does not blame medical errors wholly on the systems, but says "they are acts of individual practitioners". Whether it be a physician failing to order the correct diagnostic tests, errors of technique or flawed systems. "The institutions that are meant to protect the patients from inept physicians are not doing an adequate job," Dr. Levitt stated. Here is why:

  • The average American hospital revokes the privilege of one doctor every 20 years.
  • Only 250, or 0.04%, of the nation's 650,000 physicians lose their licenses annually. 
  • Only 1 in 100 patient harms is reported by hospitals to the 26 state health departments that require such reporting. Because 6 in 10 such harms are caused by the acts of individual doctors, an essential method for identifying erring doctors is blocked.

These things, he said, need to be changed in order to prevent the anticipated one million patients deaths likely to occur in the next decade. 

If you believe that your injury or condition was due to an unnecessary medical error, do not leave it up the physicians and the hospitals to report it. Be proactive and report your injury as soon as possible. If you have any questions about how to get started on investigating a medical malpractice case, reach out to us. We have experience with many types of medical malpractice cases against hospitals, HMOs and physicians, and when you call us, we can give you a confidential consultation and free information that can help you and your family. While we cannot take every case, we can give you information you can use to make the best decisions for you and your family.

So if you're worried about something that went wrong in the health care system, call us or send us a confidential email and we can try to help.

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Frank R. Kearney, Attorney-at-Law
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Experienced DC Workers' Comp, Long Term Disability & Accident Lawyer