Recent Report: Fewer Hospital Errors Save Lives, Money

A recently released government report presents data demonstrating that initiatives designed to reduce hospital errors may have saved the lives of as many as 50,000 people between 2011 and 2013. The same report suggested that harm due to hospital error or accidents decreased by approximately 17 percent since 2010 and also saved about $12 billion in expenses related to health care.

The report, released earlier this month, broke down the areas of improvement into categories such as problems with medications, infections, falls, and bedsores. Fewer bedsores saved about 20,300 lives. Problems with medications include reactions, overdoses, or errors; the reduction of such events prevented an additional estimated 11,500 lives. And lower numbers of falls resulted in about 6,400 lives saved.

The study was a Heath and Human Resources (HHS) analysis of 18,000 to 33,000 medical records detailing hospital-caused adverse events for 2011, 2012, and 2013. The progress reported builds on efforts and successes of the past few years in which, for instance, dramatic drops in bloodstream infections and surgical site infections have also been reported. The encouraging statistics seem to be the result of public and private initiatives to study and target common errors through the use of best practices.

Hospital errors still a source of concern

Nevertheless, hospital error remains a source of great concern and is still the third leading cause of death behind heart disease and cancer in the U.S.

Though the numbers have improved, the incidence of errors was extremely high to begin with. For instance, a 2010 governmental estimate found that over one quarter of all Medicare patients experienced injuries as part of their care which led to longer hospital stays, permanent injury, or death. And half of these injuries were entirely preventable. A report that the Journal of Patient Safety published last year found that as many as 210,000 to 440,000 patients suffer from such hospital injuries, which play a role in their deaths.

In the recent study, HHS analysts unearthed data showing almost 10 percent of patients who stayed in U.S. hospitals during the duration of the period studied suffered from some form of harm due to hospital error or inattention. The report called those numbers “still too high.”

In a speech announcing that report, HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell stated that while she was pleased with the progress, “No American should ever lose his or her life, or spend the holidays in the hospital, because of a condition that could have been prevented.”

New York hospital malpractice

At The Sanders Firm, we are heartened by the progress in reducing incidence of hospital mistakes, but know that rates of New York hospital malpractice are still far too high. Preventable hospital errors waste time and money for both patients and the health care system; more importantly, they can disrupt and destroy lives.

If you or a loved one has suffered harm or loss due to a preventable hospital mistake, contact a medical malpractice attorney at The Sanders Firm to learn more about your options for recovering damages through the courts. Our lawyers have been representing clients in all five boroughs of New York and Long Island for almost fifty years and have a proven track record of securing multi-million dollar judgments and settlements. Please call us at 800-324-7752 to set up a no-cost and no-obligation consultation with one of our attorneys. ResourcesNews Observer, Fewer hospital mistakes mean 50,000 lives, $12 billion saved