Hospital Patient Deaths from Preventable Errors

By November 15, 2019 November 26th, 2019 Blog, Medical & Hospital 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 the top spot, with 59% of hospitals earning an “A.”)

98,000 Patients Die from Hospital Medical Errors

In releasing its latest grades, Leapfrog noted they correspond with the 20-year anniversary of a key report on the scope of preventable medical errors: “To Err is Human: Building a Better Health System.”  This 1999 study from the Institute of Medicine estimated that up to 98,000 people die from medical errors in U.S. hospitals each year.

It also stressed the importance of hospitals recognizing that medical errors are made and devising strategies to prevent them from occurring in the future.

This ground-breaking medical error study was followed in 2016 by another (“Medical Error—the Third Leading Cause of Death in the US”), which provided an even higher estimate of annual deaths from preventable medical mistakes. Researchers at John Hopkins University School of Medicine estimated that 250,000 people die from medical errors each year, making them the third leading cause of death in the country, behind only heart disease and cancer.

Earlier this year Leapfrog provided its own estimate for fatal medical errors, asserting that 160,000 patients die each year from avoidable medical mistakes that are accounted for in its hospital safety grades.

St. Louis, Missouri Hospital Grades for Patient Safety

It also asserts that 50,000 patient lives would be saved each year if every hospital did enough to earn an “A” grade. Again, just under 28% of all Missouri hospitals earned an “A” for patient safety in this new Leapfrog Group grades.

Of the 24 hospitals on its website database for St. Louis, just seven earned an “A” grade.  Eleven hospitals graded out at either a “C” or “D.”

The hospital grades include evaluations of hospital treatment protocols that account for serious patient harm:

·         Hospital-acquired infections – These include staph-related infections, blood infections, urinary tract infections, and surgical site infections.

·         Surgical errors – These include objects left in the patient’s body, death from treatable complications following surgery, dangerous blood clots.

·         Following known practices to prevent errors – These include ordering medications through computers and using barcodes to reduce serious medication mistakes.

From the 1999 patient safety study to today, so much is now known about fatal medical errors made in hospitals and how to prevent them.  The fact that each year more than 100,000 or more people still die from avoidable mistakes in hospitals is evidence that more should be done to protect patients.

If you lost a loved one to what you suspect was an error during medical care, turn to an experienced medical malpractice attorney to hold accountable all those responsible.

The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertisements.

Authored by Gray, Ritter & Graham, P.C., posted in Blog November 15, 2019