About one in every 20 hospital patients will be affected by “preventable harm” – defined as unintended physical injury caused by medical care that requires additional treatment or hospitalization – according to a new study conducted by the renowned British Medical Journal.
Preventable harm is believed to account for as many as 1,000 deaths each day. And while the most common types of preventable harm include hospital-acquired infections, surgical error or wrong-site surgery, medication errors, in-hospital injury, misdiagnosis, and deep vein thrombosis, the study discovered that 12% of all preventable harm resulted in prolonged, permanent disability or death.
Economic Impact on Patients
Clearly, the human cost of preventable harm is unacceptable. But the economic impact is equally startling. In the U.S alone, preventable harm is estimated to cost nearly $20 billion annually in excess charges. The bulk of this ($17 billion) is directly associated with additional medical expenses, followed by increased mortality rates ($1.4 billion) and loss of worker productivity ($1.1 billion). When indirect costs are factored in, the estimated economic impact of preventable harm skyrockets to nearly $1 trillion annually.
These numbers are even more staggering when the cost which each patient must handle is analyzed. On average, the cost of each incident of preventable harm is $58,776 per injury. Unfortunately, Medicare and other insurers increasingly are refusing to cover the cost of medical treatment related to such incidents, leaving the patients themselves to handle the costs.
Holding Hospitals Accountable
Many patient safety advocates have called on hospitals to develop to fix, catch, and prevent the human errors that contribute to preventable harm – among them dysfunctional healthcare teams, poor use of resources, bad communication, and poor leadership among the hospital administration.
These advocates also argue that hospitals should be accountable for more of the expenses associated with medical errors. Doing so, they charge, would lead to safer systems and practice.
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What Can you Do?
If you are a victim of preventable harm due to a hospital visit, you must hold the doctors and the hospital liable for their actions. Don’t let the actions that have harmed you harm others. Call The Pintas & Mullins Law Firm today at 800-794-0444. We can help to determine whether you have a case and how to proceed. All consultations are free and you pay nothing unless we win. Make sure those who are responsible for preventable harm are held accountable for their actions.