Hospital Malpractice: Weitz & Luxenberg Responds to Report of Rise in Hospital Errors
April 18, 2007, New York, NY--A new report on American hospitals determined that the death of nearly 250,000 Medicare patients could have been prevented if healthcare workers made fewer errors. Medicare beneficiaries who had one or more patient-safety incidents had an alarming one-in-four chance of dying during their hospitalization, said the study.
The fourth annual Patient Safety in American Hospitals Study, conducted by HealthGrades, Inc., a healthcare ratings organization, determined that safety incidences in hospitals across the country rose three percent over the years studied, 2003 to 2005.
Allan Zelikovic, head of the Medical Malpractice Dept. at Weitz & Luxenberg, P.C., said, “The only tool available to stop this tide from rising is fear of litigation. This alarming trend suggests that legislative roadblocks, and insurance company propaganda proclaiming a so-called ‘malpractice crisis’, have simply moved the fear factor back to the patients’ side of the equation.”
HealthGrades examined 40.56 million Medicare hospitalization records in the 2003-2005 period, finding a great disparity in the quality of care from system to system. Top-performing hospitals had a 40 percent lower rate of medical errors compared with the country’s poorest performers.
The report is the most recent of such studies that have gained in public interest ever since the 1999 report by the federal nonprofit Institute of Medicine. The IOM found that medical errors were responsible for the deaths of as many as 98,000 patients, yearly.
According to the HealthGrades study, the patient safety incidents with the highest prevalence continue to be failure to rescue, decubitus ulcer, and post-operative sepsis—the latter of which worsened by 25 percent over the study period.
“The day is over when hospitals can compensate for unsanitary conditions by distributing antibiotics like candy,” said Zelikovic of the continued rise in incidences of sepsis. He added, “Some of the infections that sicken people to death come from their exposure to dirty hospitals.”
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