Medical Errors Harm Patients…and Their Pocketbooks

The unfortunate reality of our healthcare system is that hospitals designed to help patients often end up causing them even more pain. Each year, preventable medical mistakes contribute to nearly 190,000 deaths and more than 6 million injuries. Among the most common mistakes are procedures performed on the wrong body part, hospital-acquired infections, and medication mix-ups. These are serious adverse events that have serious consequences on the safety and well-being of patients.

A new report by the National Journal shows that patients are being forced to pay for medical errors in more ways than one. Researchers say that as much as 45 cents out of every dollar spent on U.S. health care is related to a medical mistake. Post-surgery infections are the single most expensive cause of harm, costing $3.36 billion in 2008. Bedsores, or pressure ulcers, cost nearly as much and occur just as frequently.

Because one out of every three patients will suffer from a medical mistake, patients are literally putting their physical and financial health at risk every time they step into a hospital. Despite recent efforts to curb medical errors, the problem seems to be worsening. If nearly half of every dollar is spent hurting someone, the medical community needs to be held accountable for their actions. If these avoidable errors continue to occur, patients will be forced to suffer the costly consequences.

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