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POSTS TAGGED "hospital errors"

With New Technology, New Hospital Hazards, Part 2

Last week, a previous post presented the first three entries on ECRI Institute's list of technology-related hospital hazards. This list presents some of the potential dangers that result from huge improvements in treatment technology and processes.

4. Many patients have observed the source of a fourth potential problem. While electronic records have made it easier for all caregivers to stay on the same page and easily access a patient's information, it is also easier for mistaken entries to have a bigger impact. Errors or software glitches can affect patients throughout a hospital's system, throwing major wrenches into the treatment process.

5. Hospitals are also starting to plug these records into larger systems that can automate some aspects of treatment where appropriate. Again, these computer systems depend on reliable software and accurate data entry - mistakes can have dangerous consequences for patients, including misdiagnosis or medication errors.

With New Technology, New Hospital Hazards, Part 1

Advances in healthcare technology have improved many aspects of hospital-based care. However, these new and better processes and instruments also bring new areas of concern for doctors and other medical staff. The ECRI Institute, a non-profit healthcare research organization, recently released its sixth annual report that lists the biggest technology-related dangers in American hospitals.

Each of these ten dangers represents a potentially catastrophic opportunity for medical malpractice or negligence - patients and caregivers need to be aware of these problem areas. This is the first of a two-part series that will look at ECRI's concerns.

Do Unnecessary Medical Tests Open the Doors for More Hospital Errors?

 In an attempt to minimize lawsuits and protect patients from unforeseen illnesses doctors tend to order an extensive list of medical tests and procedures. But are all of those tests always necessary? In most cases, it appears that they are not - but they are often used as a defensive mechanism to protect doctors and the hospitals they work for. However, by conducting unnecessary tests, are health care providers opening the door for more hospital errors?

When medical professionals take an oath to protect the safety and well being of their patients this is probably their intention. However, with so many patients being seriously injured or even killed due to medical mistakes leaves the door open for even more questions. No test or procedure is completely error- or risk-free.

New York's Reporting System for Hospital Errors Leaves Patients in the Dark

 Reporting of adverse events and hospital errors has always been less than accurate due to the fact that few federal regulations exist. In New York, it is even more difficult for patients to determine whether a hospital has a high rate of incidents, due to the NYPORTS program: New York Patient Occurrence Reporting and Tracking System. Under the program "adverse events" in New York can be kept secret.

The system was established by New York law and requires hospitals and other health-care facilities to report negligent acts, such as botched surgeries, medication mistakes and mysterious deaths. But buried deep into a hard drive state filing system, the information is essentially kept from the public. Take for example, a C-section surgery that was performed in 2007. It turns out that the woman was not pregnant. The medical mistake was reported through NYPORTS, but was never revealed in any public record. According to video depositions, the improper surgery was performed at New York Downtown Hospital in Lower Manhattan - but most surgical patients will never know of the hospital's negligence.

According to the New York State Health Department, hospitals have confidentially reported more than 40,000 "adverse events" since 2007, but a profile search of hospitals reveal only a fraction of these reports are open to the public. The botched C-section surgery is not included in the reports, even though hospitals are required to report medical errors within 24 hours of their occurrence.

Hospital Safety Ratings, Now Brought To You By Consumer Reports

 When thinking about buying a new car, you can turn to Consumer Reports when you're evaluating the safety features of a given model. If that is the case with a major purchase, shouldn't you have similar options when making a major medical decision?

The good news is that now you basically can. For the first time, Consumer Reports has rated hospitals for safety. Now when you're looking to select healthcare providers or undergo a surgical procedure you can evaluate the safety records of the hospitals you are considering going to. Thanks to data provided by government agencies, independent organizations, medical literature, personal interviews with patients and medical staff and safety experts, you can review the standardized safety ratings to make more educated decisions before you put your life in the hands of a doctor.

The statistics of putting your life - literally - in the hands of your doctor are not very comforting.

Family of Man Killed by Hospital Negligence Receives $7.6M

 A jury in a Queens Supreme Court recently awarded a $7.6 million verdict to the family of a man who died due to a hospital's medical negligence.

In June 2008, a 60-year-old man from Flushing, New York, was admitted to New York Hospital Queens for gallstones. The hospital scheduled surgery to remove the man's gallbladder the after he was admitted. But when the next day came, his name was not on the surgical schedule. On the next day it also failed to appear on the surgical schedule.

When the hospital finally did go to operate - three days after the man had been admitted - he was too ill for the procedure to take place. Within a day, he was dead.

Medicare Report: Too Many Hospital Errors Go Unreported

 Most errors in hospitals and urgent care clinics go unreported to oversight committees and authorities, according to a federal Medicare patient investigatory report. Hospital employees are only reporting about one out of every seven accidents and other errors that may have caused harm to a patient.

An independent review of patient files, done as part of the federal investigation into Medicare patients, found a number of unreported errors. Many of these unreported errors included common adverse events like medication issues (over-medicating patients) and bedsores.

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