Although urgent care physicians serve many of the patients who might otherwise have gone to the hospital, emergency departments still see plenty of traffic. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, there are over 130 million visits to emergency rooms in the United States annually. Ideally, each of these patients would receive appropriate and effective care, but it is an unfortunate fact that ERs are common sites for medical errors and malpractice. There are several issues that are more common than others, but these four are the most likely ones a patient would encounter when visiting an emergency room in the US.
A Kurtz ambulance service failed to pick up a patient according to their scheduled pickup, possibly contributing to her untimely death. A 71 year old woman was scheduled to be transported from 1051 Essington Road to a local hospital. Her transportation never arrived and she was left inside the building after hours until firefighters discovered her sitting in her wheelchair. A second phone call to the ambulance company was never made.
A recent study published in the Journal of Patient Safety found that 440,000 people die EVERY YEAR after suffering medical errors in U.S. hospitals. That's over 1,000 people dying every day as a result of medical malpractice and is the nation's third leading cause of death, trailing only heart disease and cancer. And these numbers don't even include people who die from medical malpractice outside the hospital setting.
If your doctor made a medical error in treatment, how would you know? In some situations, you might not know unless your doctor or medical provider told you about the mistake. But many doctors do not disclose medical mistakes and other situations. One doctor, in a recent opinion piece in a nationally recognized newspaper, says that should change.
Earlier this week, we began a discussion about pressing patient safety issues likely to receive a great deal of attention in the coming year. In an effort to reduce the prevalence of medical malpractice specifically and preventable medical errors generally, new reporting guidelines are going into effect in 2013. They will target patient safety in a variety of critical ways.
In 2013, new federal quality reporting mandates go into effect. This means that when facilities and providers provide excellent patient care, they will be recognized for those efforts. Similarly, facilities and providers who are regularly guilty of medical malpractice and fail to improve their processes will be penalized for their lack of progress. So where do hospitals, doctors and patients need to focus in 2013? There are several pressing patient safety concerns that everyone needs to be aware of and be working towards solutions for in the coming year.
Dr. Saul Weiner was testing an underweight, elderly man for cancer, a typical cause of extreme weight loss in the elderly. When Dr. Weiner asked the man where lived and if he ate regularly, his evasive answers lead Dr. Weiner to realize the man did not have cancer, but was homeless and starving.