a frightening look at hospital negligence in the us

With Halloween over, costumes will be put away, decorations will be taken down and haunted houses will close for the season. However, just because the much-celebrated holiday is officially behind us doesn’t mean that the frights to which we’ve become accustomed are at an end. Indeed, those looking for a good scare needn’t look any further than a recently published piece in Forbes Magazine outlining several “frightening facts” about the state of health care here in the U.S.

While a complete breakdown of the article is beyond the scope of a single blog post, it is worth pointing out a few of its more alarming findings as they relate to patient care in hospital settings.

Hospital patients and preventable harm: The article discusses a groundbreaking study performed by the Institute of Medicine in 2011, in which researchers determined that an unbelievable 33 percent of hospital patients suffered some manner of hospital-acquired condition, including conditions that led to serious personal injuries and wrongful death.

To help put this in perspective, the article asks how long smartphone makers would remain in business if their products shocked consumers one out of every three times they accessed their phone features.

Hospital stays and deadly medical errors: The article also discusses the recently released study by the Journal of Patient Safety, which found that between 210,000 and 440,000 patients who enter U.S. hospitals each year for treatment will experience some sort of otherwise-preventable harm resulting in their untimely demise.

Here the authors highlight how these figures would make preventable hospital harm the third leading cause of death in the U.S., trailing only cancer and heart disease.

ICU patients and critical medical errors: Finally, one of the studies cited by the article revealed that ICU patients experienced an average of 1.7 medical errors per day and that these errors could be largely attributed to communication breakdowns among clinicians.

Even more disturbing is the fact that while this study dates all the way back to 1995, many experts still consider it to be both valid and applicable to current conditions in many U.S. hospitals.

If you have been victimized or have lost a family member to what you believe was hospital negligence, consider speaking with an experienced legal professional to learn more about how you can seek justice and hold parties accountable for their actions.

Source: Forbes, “Six frightening facts you need to know about healthcare,” Robert J. Szczerba, Oct. 22, 2013

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