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Some prefer to point the finger at medical malpractice lawyers when asked about rising healthcare costs and decreases in patient safety. Rising healthcare costs mean more individuals without accessible treatment, and doctors frightened by the prospect of a lawsuit may over-diagnose a patient.
Why do we all need malpractice claims, hospital negligence claims, and the attorneys who are willing to file them?
Take sepsis and pneumonia. The first pushes the body into a full-blown inflammatory state and can cause brain damage, heart failure and even death. The latter fills the lungs with fluid and can cause severe nausea and, in the most severe cases, death.
In hospitals, where these infections are often acquired, there are a number of steps that can be taken to prevent their spread. Still, in 2006, sepsis and pneumonia alone killed 48,000 hospital patients and charged a whopping $8.1 billion to America’s healthcare account.
The numbers are from a recent study by the Archives of Internal Medicine, whose researchers looked at close to 70 million hospital discharge records, spanning nearly 10 years and 40 states. They found that hospitals continued to present a high rate of patient infection, a rate that did not decrease in either severity or number over those eight years.
In fact, they determined that hospital negligence and failure to properly control the spread of infection accounted for about 50 percent of all infection deaths.
This study, while focused completely on infections acquired at hospitals, speaks to the larger question of safety at our medical institutions and the need for those who would stand up for patient rights and hold the doctors we trust with our lives accountable for their safekeeping.