Posts in Medical & Hospital Malpractice.

An organization focused on preventing patient harm from preventable medical errors recently released a list that spotlights the dangers from defective medical devices.

ECRI is a nonprofit organization that evaluates the safety of medical devices as part of its mission to make healthcare safer. In January it released its “Top 10 Healthcare Technology Hazards” for 2023.

ECRI compiled the list through a comprehensive process of testing medical devices, reviewing reports highlighting problems, observing hospital practices, and speaking with healthcare providers.  The ...

New evidence suggests that misdiagnoses occur in emergency rooms frequently, and often with deadly consequences.

Misdiagnosis is a common medical error.  According to the Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine, 12 million U.S. patients every year suffer from a missed, delayed or incorrect diagnosis. SIMD asserts that misdiagnoses likely cause more patient harm than all other medical errors combined.

Fatal ER Diagnostic Errors

Recently released research further documents the catastrophic harm caused by diagnostic errors.

The mission of the federal Agency for Healthcare ...

A little less than half of St. Louis hospitals recently earned average to below-average grades for patient safety.

The Leapfrog Group is an independent, non-profit patient safety organization.  For 10 years it has been grading hospitals on patient safety and steps to prevent serious medical errors.  It issues grades twice a year, in the spring and fall.  It recently issued its Fall 2022 hospital grades.

Leapfrog states that most hospital medical errors can be prevented and notes that 1,000 hospital patients die every day due to a preventable medical mistake. A 2016 Johns Hopkins ...

Misdiagnosis is a medical error that kills up to 80,000 patients every year.  A group of medical safety experts has compiled a list of steps hospitals should take to prevent diagnostic errors.

According to the Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine, misdiagnoses harm more patients than all other medical errors combined.  One-third of medical malpractice lawsuits that involve the patient’s death or permanent disability allege a diagnostic error.

Types of Medical Misdiagnosis

A diagnostic error can involve:

·         Wrong diagnosis – patient is incorrectly diagnosed

·         Missed ...

The nation’s leading organization of doctors devoted to proper healthcare for infants, children and adolescents recently issued a blueprint for preventing serious medical errors during emergency care to young patients.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is comprised of 67,000 pediatricians. In October it released a revised policy statement on safe emergency department care for children. (“Optimizing Pediatric Patient Safety in the Emergency Care Setting”)

It was issued jointly with the American College of Emergency Physicians and the Emergency Nurses ...

Medication errors are preventable yet injure over 1 million patients in the United States every year. One-fourth of those patients experience life-threatening injuries.

These facts come from the Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP), a nonprofit organization whose mission is to prevent medication errors. ISMP collaborated with the World Health Organization to promote World Patient Safety Day on September 17. The annual one-day observance serves to educate the public on serious medical errors, with a particular emphasis this year on drug administration mistakes.

A new report outlines the top allegations in medical malpractice lawsuits involving nurses.

Coverys is a medical malpractice insurance provider.  In September it released a report that reviewed thousands of closed medical malpractice claims (“A Nurse’s Crucial Role in Patient Safety: Through the Lens of Malpractice Claims”).

The company reviewed 4,634 closed lawsuits between 2018 and 2021.  It found 850 incidents – almost one in five of the lawsuits – had an allegation of medical malpractice involving nurses. While those allegations represented 18% of the lawsuits ...

According to a leading medical patient safety group, diagnostic errors contribute to the deaths of up to 80,000 patients a year.  Another group recently released a list of steps to prevent this serious medical error.

The Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine reports that medical misdiagnoses likely cause more harm to patients than all other medical mistakes - such as surgical errors and drug administration errors - combined.  It relays that a third of all medical malpractice lawsuits involving the patient’s death or serious disability allege a diagnostic error.

The most common ...

Football coaches often call a time out right before a big play, to make sure they have all the players and plans in place to prevent a serious error in execution. Time outs are also essential in preventing serious surgical errors that can be catastrophic for patients.

Mistakes made during surgery are some of the most dangerous medical errors. They include:

  • Operating on the wrong patient
  • Operating on the wrong part of the patient’s body (wrong-site surgery)
  • Performing the wrong surgical procedure

“Never” Events

Any of these surgical errors can result in life-altering ...

Internists generally are physicians who diagnose and treat serious, chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, diabetes, and hypertension.  Information released earlier this year reveals  that nearly half of the country’s internists have been sued for medical malpractice.

In March, Medscape, a website focused on the medical profession, released a review of medical malpractice lawsuits involving internists (“Medscape Internist Malpractice Report 2021”). The report was a breakout from a 2021 Medscape medical malpractice survey of 4,300 physicians in nearly 30 ...

A hospital-acquired infection is a potentially deadly medical error.  They largely are preventable, and one hospital recently provided a blueprint for preventing one of the most serious hospital-acquired infections.

These occur when bacteria enter a patient’s body during a hospital stay.  They typically are caused by germs spread by medical staff or unclean medical devices.

One very serious hospital-acquired infection is caused by a bacterium known as Clostridioides difficile (C. diff).  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that almost 500,000 patients ...

In 2017, a Tennessee hospital nurse gave a patient the wrong medicine, administering a strong paralytic drug rather than an anti-anxiety drug. The patient died as a result.  A patient safety organization recently announced that such medication errors are avoidable and detailed how all hospitals can prevent them.

The Anesthesia Patient Safety Foundation released a safety advisory following the organization’s review of the Tennessee hospital fatal medication error that has received widespread media attention.

In releasing the recommendations, APSF said one of its goals is to ...

A 2016 study concluded that as many as 250,000 people in the United States die every year from a medical error.  A new study finds that one out of four Medicare hospital patients is a victim of a medical error, with nearly half of the errors being preventable.

A Johns Hopkins University study released in May 2016 (“Medical Error—The Third Leading Cause of Death in the US”)  determined that medical errors at the time were America’s third leading cause of death, behind only heart disease and cancer.

250,000 Patients Die Each Year Due to a Medical Error

The researchers attributed over ...

A patient safety watchdog organization gives only a third of St. Louis-area hospitals its top grade for preventing medical errors that can seriously harm patients.

The Leapfrog Group is a national nonprofit organization focused on improving the safety of medical care.  Twice a year it provides letter grades (“A” the highest, “F” the lowest) for hospitals in St. Louis and across the country.  It just released its Spring 2020 hospital safety grades.

The grades are based on 30 patient safety measurements. Leapfrog asserts that its safety grading system “…is the only rating ...

On the heels of 2022 Patient Safety Awareness Week, established by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, another patient safety organization released its list of top patient safety concerns for 2022.

IHI, a nonprofit group that for 30 years has focused on making healthcare safer, marked March 13-19 as 2022 Patient Safety Awareness Week, noting that as many as 400,000 U.S. patients die every year from a preventable medical error.

Identifying potential errors is the first step in preventing them.  ECRI, another organization whose mission is to make healthcare safer, recently ...

A new survey of hospital administrators reveals that patient safety falls only in the middle of their range of top concerns.

Preventable medical errors occur frequently, and they can be catastrophic.  According to research, medical errors may be the third leading cause of death in the United States.

Preventable medical errors take many forms, including:

Each one can occur in a hospital, which makes the hospital administrator survey findings concerning.

In early February 2022, the American ...

Radiologists are physicians who diagnose medical conditions using imaging technology, such as X-rays and CT scans. They are trained to interpret diagnostic images.  They typically review imaging test results and report their findings to a referring physician.

Their role in medical treatment can be vital.  When radiologists make a misdiagnosis, the consequences for patients can be very serious.

Types of Medical Misdiagnosis

Misdiagnosis is a common type of medical error.  A misdiagnosis generally falls into one of the following categories:

  • A missed diagnosis
  • A wrong diagnosis
  • A ...

A recent review of medical malpractice lawsuits spotlighted how often communication issues are cited in serious medical error allegations - and just how frequently those issues are preventable.

Poor communication among healthcare providers can be especially dangerous during patient handoffs.  Patient handoffs occur during healthcare provider transitions.  The transitions can be when one shift of hospital caregivers replaces another, or when a patient is sent to a different medical facility or a different unit within the same hospital.

Maintaining continuity of care is ...

More than eight out of 10 plastic surgeons have been sued for medical malpractice, according to a recent examination of medical malpractice lawsuits. A different report sheds even more light on plastic surgery medical malpractice claims.

Medscape, an online medical publication, last month released its study of medical malpractice lawsuits, which included some 4,300 physicians in 29 specialties.  “Medscape Malpractice Report 2021” revealed the medical specialties sued most often practiced in:

  • Plastic surgery
  • General surgery
  • Orthopedics
  • Urology
  • OB/GYN
  • Specialized ...

Technology can play a part in medical errors that harm patients. A top patient safety organization has identified this year’s top healthcare technology threats to patient safety.

Many serious medical errors are preventable, caused by a wrong action or a lack of action by healthcare providers. Healthcare provider actions or inactions that deviate from a standard level of care can be the subject of medical malpractice lawsuits.

ECRI is a non-profit organization that focuses on protecting patients from what it calls “unsafe and ineffective medical technologies and ...

An organization focused on preventing serious diagnostic errors recently spelled out why they happen and how they can be avoided.

In October, MedPage Today, an online medical publication, reported on a presentation given at this year’s annual meeting of the Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine.  SIDM is a nonprofit organization that seeks to eliminate patient harm that comes from a misdiagnosis.

According to SIDM, misdiagnosis is the medical error that results in the most serious patient harm, with a third of medical malpractice lawsuits involving a patient’s death or ...

Neurosurgery is complicated.  When mistakes are made before, during or after neurosurgery, a patient is exposed to potentially dire complications. A study released over the summer identified the top factors in medical malpractice claims against neurosurgeons.

The Doctors Company is a physician- owned medical malpractice insurance provider. In August it released the findings of its internal study of medical malpractice lawsuits and claims involving neurosurgeons between 2014 and 2019 (“The Malpractice Experience of Neurosurgeons 2014-2019: Patient Selection and ...

A review of 10 years of lawsuits reveals that the top medical malpractice allegations are for surgical errors and diagnostic mistakes. And these medical errors cause patients the most severe harm.

Covery’s, a medical malpractice insurance provider, reviewed closed medical malpractice lawsuits between 2010 and 2019, which resulted in a comprehensive report: “A Call for Action: Insights From a Decade of Malpractice Claims.”  That 10-year review included more than 20,000 claims of medical malpractice involving slightly fewer than 12,000 adverse events.

Errors Most ...

A nonprofit group focused on making medical care safer annually grades hospitals based on input from the facilities and government agencies.  Recently it let patients have their say regarding healthcare safety.

The Leapfrog Group twice a year publishes safety report cards for hospitals across the country.  It offers an overall letter grade – “A” being the best and “F” a failing grade – for each facility based on scores issued for a wide variety of factors linked to preventable medical errors, including:

·         Hospital-acquired infections

·         Surgical mistakes

·         Communication ...

About one out every five patients suffers disabling injuries or death following surgery from anesthesia issues that should have been addressed by healthcare providers.  This is based on a new study of anesthesia medical malpractice lawsuits.

Anesthesiologists provide sedation medication necessary for most operations.  They may also monitor patients following a procedure.

Safe Anesthesia Care

The Anesthesia Patient Safety Foundation is an organization focused on improving the safety of patients during anesthesia care.  On its website it features its list of top 10 priorities ...

Radiology mistakes are asserted in a small percentage of all U.S. medical malpractice lawsuits. But the clear majority of medical malpractice claims that do include radiology diagnostic errors are filed on behalf of cancer patients.

That’s a key finding in research published online late May in the Journal of the American College of Radiology. The study, “Oncologic Errors in Diagnostic Radiology: A 10-Year Analysis Based on Medical Malpractice Claims,” reviewed medical malpractice lawsuits from 2008 to 2017.

The study found that radiology, or imaging, was the primary ...

The most common medical error cardiology patients suffer is misdiagnosis, and over half of cardiology patients who were victims of any medical error died as a result.

This was found in research released late last year by The Doctors Company, a medical malpractice insurance provider to physicians.  The company reviewed closed medical malpractice lawsuits and claims over treatment mistakes with cardiology patients between 2014 and 2019. A total of 210 such medical malpractice cases were included in the research (“Cardiology Closed Claims Study”).

The findings outlined where ...

More St. Louis-area hospitals received a “C” than an “A” in the most recent nationwide grading of medical centers for patient safety and protecting them from dangerous medical errors.

The Leapfrog Group released its spring 2021 Hospital Safety Grades in April.  The organization is a 20-year-old not-for-profit focused on improving the nation’s healthcare quality. Part of its efforts is to issue hospital patient safety report cards every fall and spring.

St. Louis Hospitals and Medical Errors

The grades, which cover some 2,700 U.S. hospitals, are given in traditional ...

Those who suffer a traumatic brain injury often face severe and chronic healthcare challenges.  Included in these now, found in a recent study, is the chance to experience serious cognitive issues at a much more rapid pace than those without a TBI.

Traumatic brain injuries can have many causes, including:

·         Blow to the head in a car accident

·         Major worksite accident due to safety equipment failure

·         Assaulted by another person

Causes of Serious Brain Injuries

According to the Brain Injury Association of America, TBIs are caused by external forces to the head. Non-traumatic brain ...

Misdiagnosis is a common medical error.  There are several types of medical misdiagnoses:

·         A wrong diagnosis

·         A delayed diagnosis

·         A missed diagnosis

Serious Consequences of Medical Diagnostic Mistakes

Unfortunately, medical misdiagnoses occur all too frequently, with potentially devastating consequences.  According to the Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine (SIDM), a nonprofit organization whose mission is to reduce misdiagnoses and the resulting patient harm, diagnostic errors in this country:

·         Are responsible for 40,000-80,000 patient deaths per year

·         Are at the ...

Most surgical errors are so potentially serious to patients they are classified as “never events” – preventable medical mistakes that should never occur.  A study published late last year, however, documents how often serious surgical mistakes are made.

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) is a federal watchdog agency that seeks to improve the nation’s healthcare system and patient safety.  It lists a category of surgical never events, which include:

·         Surgery on the wrong body part

·         Performing surgery on the wrong patient

·         Performing the wrong surgical ...

March 14 – 20 was Patient Safety Awareness Week.  With some estimates that hundreds of thousands of people die every year in the United States from a preventable medical error, this is an important annual exercise.

A 2013 study of medical errors (“A New, Evidence-based Estimate of Patient Harms Associated with Hospital Care”) concluded that more than 400,000 people die annually from preventable harm they suffered during medical care.

Main Causes of Preventable Harm to Patients

When patients are seriously injured or die from such harm, these incidents are called preventable ...

A medical safety organization has issued a warning as to the top medical care technology dangers to watch out for this year.

While technological advancements in the field of medicine have been on balance a valuable asset, there have been drawbacks when relying too heavily on them.  Defective medical devices – those improperly manufactured yet sent out to market – can cause serious harm to patients.

For example, a type of cardiac defibrillator recently was recalled after a component was found at risk of breaking, which could lead to the death of the patient in which it was implanted.

Medication errors are a significant threat to patients every day.  An organization devoted to preventing them just released a list of the top preventable medication errors made last year.

A 2016 study by Johns Hopkins concluded that medical errors kill up to 250,000 patients every year in the United States, making them the third leading cause of death in the country. Serious, potentially fatal medical errors include:

·         Wrong-site surgery

·         Hospital-acquired infection

·         A missed diagnosis

Types of Serious Medication Errors

Medication errors are another leading type of medical ...

An exhaustive look at medical malpractice lawsuits tells us that surgical errors are among the top preventable medical mistakes made, and that nearly one out of every 10 patients who suffers a significant error during surgery dies as a result.

Coverys, a leader in medical professional liability insurance for physicians for over 45 years, has done an extensive study of the causes of surgical and clinical errors.  In February 2020, the company released a white paper that examined serious errors made during surgery (“Surgery Risks: Through the Lens of Medical Malpractice Claims.” ...

The grades are in and it appears there are plenty of hospitals that, when it comes to preventing serious medical errors, have much important work to do! The Leapfrog Group, a nonprofit watchdog organization focuses on improving the nation’s healthcare. Founded in 2000, it publishes patient safety grades for U.S. hospitals twice a year.  It recently released its “Fall 2020” grades addressing how individual hospitals measured up to medical care benchmarks. Failure by hospitals in some cases meant patients were susceptible to serious errors.

Medical errors represent a ...

Because of the coronavirus, elective surgeries in many St. Louis hospitals are on hold.  But some surgeries can’t wait.  What are the necessary precautions to take for safe surgeries during the COVID-19 pandemic?  Four national medical groups recently announced a plan to avoid serious errors and patient harm during or following surgery.

The plan is an updated guide published previously this year by these four groups:

·         American College of Surgeons

·         American Society of Anesthesiologists

·         Association of periOperative Registered Nurses

·         American Hospital Association

With the ...

Hospital intensive care units provide the best, most sophisticated care for patients enduring the most serious medical conditions.  But a respected medical organization recently issued warnings about dangerous preventable complications certain ICU patients may needlessly suffer.

Hospital ICUs have been in demand most of this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Patients suffering the most dire threats from the coronavirus are stretching thin ICU beds and resources in St. Louis, in Missouri, and all across the United States.

But in general, the patients most likely to require ICU ...

Dangerous medical errors are estimated to be responsible for the death of 250,000 U.S. patients every year. Medication errors represent a common but often serious type of preventable medical error.  A new survey shows that almost a third of medical professionals have witnessed one particular type of medication error.

There are several types of medication errors, including:

·         Wrong dose

·         Medication given to the wrong patient

·         Wrong delivery of correct medication

The new survey has to do a group of medications that are delivered by injection – typically syringes and IVs.

The ...

When hospital administrators and safety officials search for bacteria that cause dangerous hospital-acquired infections, they should be sure to look down around their feet. Hospital-acquired infections are dangerous, often fatal, medical errors.  It is classified as a medical error since the patient is admitted to the hospital infection free, only to suffer from it due to hospital care.

Types of Hospital-Acquired Infections

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention highlights these common four types of HAIs:

·         Central line-associated bloodstream infection – kills ...

Leaving a surgical tool or some other object in the patient following an operation is a serious surgical error that should never happen.  But it happens more often than you probably think.

Medical mistakes are a serious health risk and a leading cause of death in the United States by some estimates.  Surgical errors are one type of these preventable medical “never events” – labeled as such because they are so serious they should never happen to a patient.

Serious Surgical Mistakes

Unfortunately, retained surgical instruments or RSIs, represent one example of serious mistakes made ...

The dramatic changes brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic are numerous and exhaustive, felt by virtually all Americans.  It has even fueled the growth of a change in our medical care.  As a result of coronavirus, telemedicine is now a much more widely adopted norm.

But how safe is telemedicine?

Telehealth is not new.  It’s been around for more than a decade, but due to the current inherent health risks of COVID-19, its use has skyrocketed in 2020.  The benefits are obvious.  The chief being it limits physical interaction and therefore the risk of potentially deadly virus spread.

As more ...

Traumatic brain injuries are among the most catastrophic injuries a person can suffer.  New evidence shows even mild brain injuries may pose long-term, life-changing consequences.

Media attention to traumatic brain injuries has heightened in recent years, largely to sports-related TBIs.  No sport has been in this spotlight more than football, be it high school, college or the professional ranks.

The National Football League has been under scrutiny in particular for looking the other way when it comes to Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. CTE symptoms in football players ...

There’s one way for medical professionals to better prevent making serious errors during surgery: just follow the checklists. Surgical errors happen far too often, with catastrophic consequences for patients and their families.  These mistakes, which typically are categorized as “never events” – meaning they should never happen to patients – include:

·         Operating on the wrong patient

·         Operating on the wrong side of the patient

·         Performing the wrong surgical procedure

·         Operating on the wrong site of the patient

·         Surgical site infections

According to a report ...

Most hospitals, at one time or another, have become overwhelmed during the COVID-19 pandemic.  An influx of coronavirus patients can strain not only doctors and nurses treating them, but other medical professionals throughout a hospital. And these overworked healthcare providers – often times exhausted and eager to leave at the end of their shifts – may pose dangers to their patients.

The period when one shift of hospital medical care providers ends and another begins can be fraught with patient harm if not handled correctly.  These periods not only include transfers between day ...

As COVID-19 infections surged in March, hospitals shifted the bulk of their resources to treating infected patients.  Most surgeries were delayed or canceled to avoid patients from needless coronavirus exposure.

In May, with COVID cases trending downward, St. Louis hospitals began again performing elective surgeries. But the question remains, what should hospitals do to prevent serious surgical errors and patient infections during the coronavirus pandemic?

Four leading professional healthcare organizations issued such a blueprint.

In April these medical groups released a ...

Medical errors are estimated to be the third leading cause of death in the United States, behind only heart disease and cancer.  According to a new study, many serious medical mistakes are made as early as in the notes taken by physicians.

The study (“Frequency and Types of Patient-Reported Errors in Electronic Health Record Ambulatory Care Notes”), published this month in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that 20% of patients who reviewed their doctors’ notes following an ambulatory care visit uncovered an error in those records.  Ambulatory care ...

Mistakes made in administrating medications are often serious, especially when those mistakes are made with expectant mothers. A study published earlier this year highlights how common drug errors are among this group of patients.

Types of Serious Medication Errors

Serious medication errors involve one or more of these issues:

·         Wrong medication

·         Wrong dosage

·         Wrong patient

·         Wrong administration route

·         Wrong time

A survey released in February focused on medication orders given to the wrong patient.  All patients in the study (“46: Wrong Patient Orders in Obstetrics: An ...

Some estimates say that as many as 15% of all medical diagnoses are incorrect.  Now a new study concludes that certain serious medical conditions are often misdiagnosed.

A medical misdiagnosis can take three forms:

·         Missed diagnosis

·         A wrong diagnosis

·         Delayed diagnosis

Each type of preventable medical error can seriously hurt patients. According to the Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine, an organization that works to improve medical diagnoses, between 40,000 and 80,000 patients die each year in this country due to a misdiagnosis.

This organization funded a study (“Rate ...

It’s a decidedly mixed bag for patient safety in St. Louis-area hospitals. As preventable medical errors are estimated to be the third leading cause of death in the United States, this is not comforting news.

The Leapfrog Group, a leading nonprofit patient safety organization, annually publishes safety grades for hospitals across the country.  It publishes the grades, which are based on reports of adverse events and other factors, in the spring and fall.

Its Spring 2020 patient safety grades – from “A” to “F” - were released earlier this month.

How Safe are St. Louis ...

A medical malpractice insurance company recently published a study of medical malpractice lawsuits over anesthesiologists’ mistakes.  It’s a follow-up to a previous study the company conducted and shows not much has changed. Patients still die at a relatively high rate from this type of surgical error.

In February the Doctors Company released the findings of its latest research (“Anesthesiology Closed Claims Study”).  It includes resolved anesthesia medical malpractice lawsuits for the years 2013 through 2018.  It is a comparative look at its previous study for such ...

The COVID-19 pandemic is a healthcare crisis of unimaginable scope, but some good may come from these difficult times.  One example may be a heightened awareness of the need for good personal hygiene and cleaning in our hospitals and other healthcare facilities.

Of the various types of serious and preventable medical errors, perhaps the one posing the greatest fatal risk is a hospital-acquired infection (HAI).  This is exactly what it sounds like: A patient incurs an infection during a hospital stay for medical treatment.

Common Types of Serious Hospital-Acquired Infections

When it comes to providing quality healthcare and keeping patients safe from serious medical errors, bigger is not necessarily better. As with most businesses, the reason for hospital consolidations is to become more efficient and to improve the bottom line.  Reducing costs, eliminating duplications, streamlining workforces, and increasing areas of coverage are common goals of hospital mergers.

The trend in the U.S. hospital industry for several years is consolidation – hospital systems buying up other medical facilities.  According to the National Institute for Health Care ...

As many as 400,000 patients are harmed because of surgical errors every year.  And those mistakes made during surgery are preventable, according to a report issued last year.

“Analysis of Human Performance Deficiencies Associated with Surgical Adverse Events,” published July 31, 2019 by JAMA Network Open, an online portal to numerous medical journals, examined surgical errors made at three hospitals. The researchers reviewed the records of 5,352 operations.

Surgical Adverse Events That Harm Patients

They identified 188 adverse events – something gone wrong that can ...

According to research released last month, as many as one out of every four patients suffer from a medical error every year.

The Foundation for the Development of Innovative Health Safety, a Boston-based, international nonprofit organization focused on improving medical care, published in January a white paper on medical errors that harm patients in this country and around the world. It examined treatment in hospitals as well as outpatient medical centers to evaluate the physical and economic toll medical errors take on patients and their families.

1 Out of 4 Patients Harmed by ...

Physicians who show signs of depression – regardless of their experience or lack of - are more likely to make mistakes during medical treatment.

That’s the conclusion of a new study that reviewed the findings of previous research efforts into depressed doctors.  The study (“Association Between Physician Depressive Symptoms and Medical Errors - A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis”) was published online late last year by JAMA Network Open, a medical journal from the American Medical Association.

This latest research encompassed 11 previous studies of physician ...

We are aware of the dangers of distracted driving.  But there’s now evidence that distracted medical care – caregivers providing treatment while using their cell phones – is harming young patients.

Medication mistakes are a serious and common type of medical error.  They are highly preventable. A new study shows how cell phone use among nurses can lead to errors while administering drugs to pediatric patients.

The study (“Association Between Mobile Telephone Interruptions and Medication Administration Errors in a Pediatric Intensive Care Unit”) was published online in ...

Twenty years ago, a landmark report (“To Err is Human”) found that as many 98,000 people die from medical errors in this country every year.  And just three years ago, another study said that only heart disease and cancer caused more deaths in the United States than preventable medical mistakes.

According to that more recent Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine study (“Medical Error—the Third Leading Cause of Death in the U.S.”), more than 250,000 people die annually from medical errors.

What is a Medical Error?

That study defines a medical error to include:

·         A mistake ...

Misdiagnosis is a common but serious medical mistake. According to new research, misreading of CT scans – one variety of patient misdiagnosis - is a leading cause of medical errors that harm patients.

The Doctors Company, a medical malpractice insurance provider, in early December released the findings of its study into radiology medical malpractice claims (“Diagnostic and Interventional Radiology Closed Claims Study”).  It reviewed nearly 600 medical malpractice lawsuits against radiologists that closed between 2013 and 2018.

The study examined medical malpractice ...

Missouri hospitals rank in the bottom half of all U.S. states for patient safety, with far less than one-third of the facilities achieving the highest grade in this regard.

The fall rankings for U.S. hospitals were recently published by the Leapfrog Group, a nonprofit organization that highlights dangerous medical errors.  It issues twice-yearly hospital safety grades, with “A” being the best grade and “F” a failing grade.

Per the newly released rankings, Missouri is number 29, with just under 28% of the Show Me State’s hospitals earning an “A” grade. (Maine came in at ...

While one leading patient safety organization recently reported on medical errors made at same-day surgery facilities, another recently published its report on common and dangerous medical mistakes made during other outpatient care.

In October the Leapfrog Group, a nonprofit that rates hospitals for patient safety, entered new waters with a report on patient safety in outpatient surgery centers across the country.  The organization had concerns over some of its findings.

About the same time the ECRI Institute released a more comprehensive look at patient safety in U.S ...

The portion of medical malpractice lawsuits filed over problems with electronic health records is relatively small – but is rising as healthcare providers increasingly rely on the technology.

Electronic health records allow authorized healthcare providers instant and real-time access to a patient’s medical records. These digital patient charts were introduced in an effort to boost medical care efficiency and outcomes.

But one result not trumpeted by EHR makers and proponents that has become a reality: medical errors that harm patients.

The Doctors Company provides ...

On last month’s World Patient Safety Day, the World Health Organization reported that globally, 2.6 million people die every year from medical errors.  In the United Sates, researchers estimate that medical mistakes are the third leading cause of death, behind only heart disease and cancer.

Common deadly medical errors include misdiagnosis, wrong site surgery, and mistakes with medications.  But a new report sheds light on another leading cause of medical mistakes that harm patients: medical devices.

The ECRI Institute is a 50-year-old organization focusing on protecting ...

Some patients going through post-operative pain may become victims of overprescribed opioids.  What can and should be done to prevent potentially dangerous opioid prescriptions?

Opioids are strong painkillers typically derived from the opium plant.  Common opioid painkillers include:

·         Hydrocodone

·         Oxycodone

·         Fentanyl

·         Morphine

They have been in the news much over the last few years as fatal opioid overdoses have become a national health scourge.  According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 130 Americans each day die from an opioid abuse.

Opioid Lawsuits

Lawsuits across ...

Research published in July concluded that one out of every 20 hospital patients is a victim of a preventable medical error.  And more than one out of those 10 suffered serious harm or died as a result.

The study (“Prevalence, Severity, and Nature of Preventable Patient Harm across Medical Care Settings: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis”) was published in the British Medical Journal and was global in scope, encompassing a review of some 70 other medical error studies.

Medication Errors, Surgical Errors Most Common Medical Mistakes

Researchers found that medication errors ...

After a recent decline in one type of serious hospital-acquired patient infection, recent evidence shows that this largely preventable condition may be on the climb once more.

Hospital-acquired infections are not rare but often can be life-threatening.  Such infections are the direct result of medical treatment patients receive.  They include:

·         Surgical site infections – occur in the part of the body that was operated on and can spread throughout the body to harm organs

·         Urinary tract infections – typically transferred to a patient from an unclean urinary catheter

·         Blood ...

When something goes wrong in surgery and the unthinkable occurs – such as the patient dying - chances are it is due to a mistake made by someone on the surgical team.

The results of a new survey recently published online by JAMA Network Open (“Analysis of Human Performance Deficiencies Associated with Surgical Adverse Events”) show that more than half of surgical adverse events are the result of human error.

Researchers reviewed the records of 5,365 patients who underwent surgery over a six-month period and found that 182 patients suffered an adverse event during the procedure ...

It appears that technology meant to make health care more efficient may actually be leading to serious medical errors that harms patients.

Electronic health records are now widely used in St. Louis hospitals and those across the United States.  They are the hi-tech version of a patient’s traditional paper charts.  They include all important medical history information, including treatment plans, previous diagnoses, medication records, and more.

At least they should, but they often don’t.

EHRs are widely used in medicine today because of a 2009 federal rule encouraging their ...

There are preventable medical errors termed “never events,” meaning they are so serious they should never happen to patients. What should hospitals do when their caregivers make such a grave error?

The National Quality Forum, a not-for-profit organization focused on improving U.S. healthcare, has a list of 29 preventable medical errors it identifies as never events. The events are grouped in seven categories: surgical errors, radiological errors, medical device errors, patient protection errors, care management errors, environmental errors, and errors so heinous they ...

New evidence suggests that nearly half of doctors today are unsure about their diagnoses.  This is especially alarming given that one of the most common and harmful medical errors is a patient misdiagnosis.

A study (“Reflections on Diagnosis and Diagnostic Errors: a Survey of Internal Medicine Resident and Attending Physicians”) recently published on the website of the Journal of General Internal Medicine deals with medical misdiagnosis, examining doctors’ perception of this frequent medical mistake.

Researchers surveyed nearly 240 doctors in Connecticut in an effort ...

Emergency rooms are often times fast-paced, hectic, and stressful workplaces.  It’s not surprising, then, to learn that three out of every four less young emergency room physicians are burned out.

And this can lead to medical errors that harm patients.

Physician burnout is not a new concern.  In September 2018, a study (“Association Between Physician Burnout and Patient Safety, Professionalism, and Patient Satisfaction A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis”) determined that physician burnout doubles the chances for a medical error, unprofessional behavior and low ...

Preventable medical errors are estimated to be the third leading cause of death in the United States. They recently have been blamed for an even more specific fatal epidemic: women who die in the United States from pregnancy-related complications.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently released the findings of its research into child delivery-related deaths (“Vital Signs: Pregnancy-Related Deaths, United States, 2011–2015, and Strategies for Prevention, 13 States, 2013–2017”). The CDC reviewed data from 2011 through 2015 and documented 3,410 ...

Parents understandably worry greatly when their young children are sick or severely injured. Just imagine the anguish when their children suffer serious harm – or much worse – from medical mistakes made by the very people who are supposed to be helping them.

Misdiagnosis is one of the most frequent medical mistakes made by healthcare professionals.  It also is among the most serious.  Coverys, an insurance company providing medical malpractice insurance to doctors, in March reported it found misdiagnoses in 46 percent of medical malpractice lawsuits between 2013 and 2017.  And in ...

Medication errors are a common and very serious form of preventable medical mistakes.  How are such errors made and how can medication mistakes be reduced?  A leading hospital safety organization says it has the answers.

The Leapfrog Group is a nonprofit organization that seeks to improve the quality of U.S. healthcare.  It recently released a comprehensive look at medication errors, noting that they are the most frequent medical mistake in hospitals, responsible for 7,000 patient deaths each year.  “Medication Safety Report 2019” offers remedies to end these potentially fatal ...

How does a serious medical error happen – one so severe that it leads to a patient’s death?  Often times the answer involves intertwining causes; a fact reinforced by the list of patient safety concerns recently published by a leading safety group.

Founded 50 years ago, the ECRI Institute is an independent, nonprofit organization whose goal is to protect patients from medical mistakes, both human and technological.  It annually publishes a list of what it sees as the top challenges to patient safety in the United States.  It just released its latest version: “2019 Top 10 Patient ...

The 2019 Patient Safety Awareness Week is March 10 through March 16. Given that medical errors are estimated to be the third leading cause of death in the United States – killing as many as 440,000 people a year - this annual seven-day effort is not a trivial pursuit.

Patient Safety Awareness Week is promoted by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement.  Founded in 1991, the organization is comprised of healthcare experts and practitioners whose goal is reducing preventable medical errors.  It offers help to providers and healthcare treatment facilities in developing better ...

The number of medical malpractice lawsuits with multi-million-dollar payments to victims has risen significantly over the last 10 years in the United States.

That’s one of the findings in a recently released study of medical malpractice lawsuits by CRICO Strategies, “Medical Malpractice in America: A 10-year Assessment with Insights.”  CRICO Strategies insures Harvard University medical institutions.

Researchers reviewed 124,000 medical malpractice lawsuits between 2007 and 2016; about 30 percent of all claims filed in that timeframe.  The report notes that these ...

Medical errors constitute the third leading cause of death in the United States.  It’s been estimated that a doctor’s misdiagnosis is the most serious of all preventable medical errors.

The impacts of misdiagnoses are felt widely every day.  According to the Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine, 12 million Americans are affected by diagnostic errors each year.  And a third suffers serious harm from a misdiagnosis.

Wrong, Delayed or Missed Diagnosis

That harm comes from three types of misdiagnoses – delayed, wrong or missed diagnosis. The difference between a wrong ...

Electronic health records, technology to help make healthcare safer, may be causing a serious medical error harming young patients.

An electronic health record (EHR) is a modern update to patient charting, replacing paper with digital technology.  A patient’s medical history, including past diagnoses, medical tests, and treatments, is captured. Theoretically, an EHR offers the potential for reducing mistakes and a better comprehensive treatment plan.

Wrong Medication Dosage

One of the items included in an EHR is a patient’s medications.  Medication errors, which include ...

Medical errors that harm patients can be caused by poor communication between healthcare providers and patients and their families.

That’s the conclusion of a recently released study published online by BMJ (“Patient Safety after Implementation of a Coproduced Family Centered Communication Programme: Multicenter Before and After Intervention Study”).

Patient Handoffs and Medical Mistakes

The study is an extended look at I-PASS, which is a communication model for healthcare providers to follow during patient handoffs.  At this time, doctor and nurses who are ending ...

Though you probably are not aware of it, the first week of December is National Handwashing Week.  While this may seem like an innocuous observance, improper handwashing can be a negligent, live-threatening act.

Hospital-acquired infections are a serious and common form of preventable medical errors.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each day one out of every 31 U.S. hospital patients contracts an infection while receiving care.

Types of Serious Infections That Hospital Patients Suffer

Such infections are typically carried by a virus, bacteria or ...

Diagnostic errors have been found to be the most abundant and most serious of all medical errors.  New research indicates that these mistakes may be prevented simply with better communication and respect from medical care providers.

In 2013, researchers at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine reviewed 25 years of payouts in medical malpractice lawsuits (“25-Year summary of US malpractice claims for diagnostic errors 1986–2010: an analysis from the National Practitioner Data Bank”). The researchers determined that mistakes made with diagnoses – such as a ...

When one out of every 25 hospital patients develops a preventable infection in this country, there’s reason to worry about hospital safety.  That’s why one organization measures patient safety and just released its latest grades for hospitals in Missouri and the other 49 states.

Leapfrog is a non-profit that focuses on patient safety.  Twice a year it releases patient safety grades for the nation’s hospitals.  A panel of experts reviews publicly available data and measures the information in a number of ways, including patient harm.

Encompassing 28 criteria for hospital ...

To prevent medical misdiagnosis – a common medical error that can seriously harm patients – it’s time to ACT.

The rate of patient misdiagnosis in the United States has been estimated as high as 40 percent. This includes when patients receive an incorrect diagnosis, a missed diagnosis or a delayed diagnosis. Any of these medical errors can pose grave consequences to patients. The Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine asserts that one hospital patient dies from a misdiagnosis every nine minutes in this country.

In response, the society formed the Coalition to Improve ...

September is Sepsis Awareness Month.  Sepsis is a blood infection that can be fatal.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 250,000 Americans die each year from sepsis.

More alarming, sepsis is a highly preventable infection.

Sepsis is commonly caused by bacteria, as well as certain viruses.  The elderly and the young are most susceptible to the blood infection.  Other persons at risk for developing sepsis include those undergoing cancer treatments, those with severe burns or injuries, and those with other infections, such as pneumonia.

Signs of Sepsis

Common ...

What causes medical errors to be made in hospital emergency rooms?  Most likely bad decisions by doctors, according to recent new research.

Medical errors have been estimated the third leading cause of death in the United States.  There are a wide range of serious medical mistakes made every day, including wrong site surgery, hospital-acquired infections, and medication errors.

Wrong Emergency Room Diagnosis

A hospital emergency room offers unique challenges to medical care providers.  In this setting, how doctors process information can be key.  A wrong diagnosis in the emergency ...

It’s estimated that medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States. But what causes medical mistakes that harm patients?  One major contributor that may be overlooked is physician burnout.

The Stanford University School of Medicine in July published the findings of its study on the role that doctor burnout and fatigue played in causing medical errors.  (“Physician Burnout, Well-being, and Work Unit Safety Grades in Relationship to Reported Medical Errors”)

Researchers surveyed nearly 6,700 U.S. physicians.  The makeup of the physicians mirrored the ...

Children are continuing to be harmed in hospitals by events that should rarely take place but for a preventable mistake.

An adverse event is patient harm created by an error during medical care. Examples of preventable medical mistakes that can lead to serious, even fatal adverse events for hospital patients include hospital-acquired infections, surgical errors, and medication errors.

While hospital patients of any age should not be subjected to serious medical errors, the consequences suffered by younger patients from mistakes in care oftentimes are severe. Yet a recent study ...

Each day, one out of every 25 hospital patients in the United States suffers a catastrophic infection. As a result, 90,000 patients die each year from a hospital-acquired infection.

These are the findings from the Leapfrog Group, which in June published a report on hospital-acquired infections (Healthcare-Associated Infections).  The Leapfrog Group is a not-for-profit organization focused on improving the safety of healthcare in this country. One of the more notable Leapfrog efforts is to each year issue a safety grade for hospitals across the United States. The frequency of ...

Nursing home residents and their loved ones often face unsettling times.  The medical care they receive tops the list of such worries.  Unfortunately, a new look at nursing home medical care may do little to sooth anyone’s concerns.

When nursing home residents suffer a major illness – such as an infection – they often are sent to hospitals for medical care.  Kaiser Health News this month published a report that revealed the alarming dangers when nursing homes make this process a revolving door.  (It also last year reported that nursing homes often ignore necessary steps to prevent ...

Fires that seriously burn or kill surgical patients can and do break out in operating rooms.

This preventable medical error happens more often than most people probably think.  Better known surgical errors are wrong site surgery, in which the surgeon operates on the wrong part of the patient’s body, and surgical instruments left behind in a patient.  Some estimates show, however, that surgical fires occur about as frequently as either of them.

Because they do occur and because they are preventable, the Food and Drug Administration published guidelines for surgical personnel to ...

The rate of drug errors for pediatric hospital patients is much higher than for adult hospital patients.  There is now a plan for limiting serious medicine mistakes when children are treated in hospital emergency rooms.

In March 2018, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) outlined the heightened risks young patients in emergency rooms face for suffering from medication errors and guidelines for minimizing them.

Emergency room medical care often requires fast and multi-faceted decisions.  Children treated in a hospital ER may be suffering from a variety of existing conditions ...

In their attempts to be more cost efficient and boost their bottom lines, hospitals also may endanger their patients.

Corporations often merge or buy smaller companies.  The goal is to gain more customers while streamlining costs.  America’s healthcare industry is no different.  In St. Louis and other cities, hospital operators have dwindled as healthcare systems merge or purchase other providers.

A new study looked at how hospital mergers and acquisitions affect patient care. It examined patient safety at Harvard-related health facilities across the country, speaking with ...

Problems with electronic health records – both in their design and how healthcare providers use them – can lead to serious medical errors.

Electronic health records have largely replaced patient paper charts.  The potential benefits of EHRs are clear: they are easily accessible by multiple professionals simultaneously; they can contain much more information than paper records; they can streamline care.

Now there are warning signs that these digital healthcare records also expose patients to serious and preventable harm.

Software Issues with Electronic Health Records

Medical errors reportedly are the third largest cause of death in the United States.  According to a leading medical research organization, a diagnostic error is the one that should concern patients the most.

The ECRI Institute is a nonprofit organization focused on research to improve medical safety and patient care.  Each year it publishes a list of the nation’s Top 10 patient concerns.  It does this by collecting a myriad of data sources, including actual events in which a patient’s safety was endangered during treatment.

Sitting atop its list of Top 10 Patient Concerns for 2018 is ...

If all U.S. hospitals followed the same safety procedures as the nation’s elite healthcare facilities, more than 100,000 hospital patient deaths would be prevented each year.  That’s the conclusion of a new study that named the nation’s top hospitals.

The Watson Health 100 Top Hospitals list was released in early March.  It’s an annual study from IBM that identifies America’s best hospitals using a variety of public data.

Measures of Hospital Patient Safety

The metrics used in this study to locate the nation’s safest hospitals include:

·         Patient survival rates - the top ...

The nation’s growing opioid abuse crisis has been well documented.  As one response, the federal government recently published an educational guide for doctors on how to properly prescribe the powerful painkillers.

According to preliminary estimates, opioid overdoses may have killed well over 60,000 people in 2017.  Medication errors are a leading type of serious and preventable medical mistakes.  As the data suggest, when doctors aren’t careful in prescribing opioids, the results can be fatal for some patients.

In January, the Food and Drug Administration published what it ...

Those who suffer from depression know just how damaging the condition can be in all aspects of daily life, from personal relationships to on-the-job performance.  Burned out physicians are not spared these consequences.  And many times neither are their patients.

A recent survey by Medscape, a leading online source of medical news and reporting, divulged an alarming number of physicians who report they are depressed or burned out.  A little more than four out of every 10 doctors of the 15,543 surveyed said they were burned out.  Another 15 percent said they suffered from depression ...

According to media reports, four out of every 10 nursing homes across the country were charged with at least one serious patient care violation since 2013.  Yet, the federal government recently announced its intention to lessen financial fines on facilities found to have committed potential nursing home patient neglect.  Even when the negligent nursing home care resulted in a resident’s death.

The new diminished oversight policy toward nursing homes is in keeping with the federal administration’s view on regulating businesses: The less supervision the better.

Nursing Home ...

Medical malpractice lawsuits seek to obtain fair and just compensation for men, women, and children who were seriously hurt by negligent health care.  Those suing are the injured patients or, in the case of a fatal medical error, the patients’ surviving relatives.

So what types of doctors are most commonly sued for medical malpractice?  What are the outcomes?  How do physicians react to medical malpractice lawsuits?  A new study goes right to the source to get some answers.

The Medscape Malpractice Report 2017 was recently published online.  Medscape is a web-based medical news ...


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