Although many doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals treat patients within the appropriate standard of care, a shocking number of preventable medical mistakes still continue to threaten the safety and lives of vulnerable patients. Experienced Illinois Medical Malpractice attorneys at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm have worked with countless individuals and their families who suffered serious personal injuries and even lost their lives due to medical errors that could have been avoided. We understand the overwhelming physical, mental, and financial toll that victims of medical mistakes suffer and we continue to encourage any preventative measures that are taken by the healthcare industry to avoid these life-changing adverse events.
One of the most recent federal efforts to reform the healthcare industry and reduce the prevalence of medical mistakes is the Partnership for Patients: Better Care, Lower Costs initiative launched by the Obama Administration in April of 2011. This new public-private partnership is part of a series of reform measures outlined in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which took effect on March 23, 2010. Although the Act will not be fully integrated until 2016, we are already beginning to see some of its potential benefits.
Partnership for Patients effectively brings together state and federal governments, along with medical professionals from major hospitals around the country. The goals of the partnership are twofold: to prevent patients from being injured by a preventable hospital-acquired infection and to reduce preventable complications that require re-hospitalization. Estimates show that this reform could potentially save the healthcare industry close to $35 billion, and reduce Medicare costs by about $50 billion over the next decade. Improving reliability and safety measures while decreasing healthcare costs will save thousands of lives and provide for a more efficient and dependable healthcare system.
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The story of one woman who suffered the devastating consequences of a preventable medical error was recently illustrated in a Healthcare.gov blog. In a tragic case involving serious medical malpractice, Sorrel King lost her 18-month old daughter Josie because of an avoidable mistake. In 2001, King took her daughter to the hospital for the treatment of severe burns. The 18-month-old appeared to be recovering well, until a series of preventable medical errors were made that eventually led to her death.
Our medical malpractice lawyers know that preventable errors similar to those involved in the story of Sorrel King happen far too often in our nation’s healthcare system. The Institute for Medicine estimates that as many as 98,000 Americans die each year as a result of these unintentional, yet avoidable, medical mistakes. We recognize the powerful need to curb medical negligence and save the lives of vulnerable patients. Although the system has self-help disciplinary measures in place, such as state medical boards that are tasked with disciplining doctors who violate the applicable standard of care, these measures are inadequate. Nearly two-thirds of offending doctors never receive any type of discipline and nearly half of all hospitals in this country have not reported a single disciplinary action.
When a preventable medical mistake results in harm or death, it is important to hold doctors, insurance companies, and hospitals accountable in order to compensate medical negligence victims and protect future patients from injury. The justice system is one of the most effective ways to hold these parties responsible and improve patient safety, in addition to saving billions of healthcare dollars. Our malpractice lawyers also encourage additional efforts, such as the Partnership for Patients, which are aimed at preventing medical mistakes before they occur and improving the healthcare system as a whole.