New Study Finds that Medical Errors are Grossly Underreported; On-line Tool Makes it Easy for Floridians to Compare Healthcare Facilities

In hospital lingo, medical errors and preventable infections are called “adverse events.” In legal lingo, the term “medical malpractice” is used to describe an act of professional negligence by a health care provider in which the provider deviates from commonly accepted standards of practice, and that deviation results in injury or death to a patient. From a legal perspective, adverse events are not always equivalent to actionable medical malpractice because adverse events sometimes occur even when the hospital staff exercised the utmost diligence.

A new study published in the medical journal Health Affairs shows that about one out of every three people admitted into a hospital encounter some type of adverse event during their stay. The findings of this study suggest that incidents of medical malpractice are actually much higher than previously estimated.

Previous studies that addressed adverse events in hospitals relied heavily on voluntary methods of data collection. In other words, hospitals were trusted to accurately report on their own medical errors. The Health Affairs study used a new method to collect data, and according to the study, the actual frequency of medical errors in hospitals is ten times higher than what the federal government and hospitals had previously reported.

The editor-in-chief of Health Affairs commented on the recently published study and said, “Without a doubt, we’ve seen improvements in health care over the past decade, but overall progress has been agonizingly slow.” The American Hospital Association (AHA) responded to the study by saying that hospitals “are dedicated to improving patient quality and safety.” According to the AHA, the Health Affairs study “offers new insights that hospitals can use for quality improvements.”

In related news, the US Department of Health and Human Services recently launched a new on-line tool to help patients choose and compare different health care facilities. At hospitalcompare.hhs.gov, consumers can review patient satisfaction data for local hospitals. For example, a patient contemplating a surgical procedure can compare local hospitals and hopefully make an informed decision about where to seek medical care based on data collected from previous patients. Data is currently available for dozens of Broward County health care facilities.

If you or a loved one was injured by a medical error in a hospital, call the Fort Lauderdale medical malpractice attorneys at Anidjar & Levine today. A free initial consultation can help you to determine whether or not legal action is appropriate. Our Florida offices can be reached at 800-747-3733.