Hospital errors are a leading cause of death in U.S.
Medical errors are a serious issue for New Jersey patients and patients around the United States. If medical mistakes were ranked as a disease, it would be the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Surgeons operate on the wrong body part as many as 40 times each week. Up to 30 percent of medications, procedures, and tests that are conducted are thought to be medically unnecessary. The mistakes, along with causing serious injuries and avoidable deaths, also cost us billions of dollars every year.
One of the primary ways to try to solve this problem may be to implement public reporting standards for hospital mistakes such as surgical complications and infections. When instituted in the past, better public reporting helped motivate hospitals to improve patient safety and eventually lowered the rate of errors and avoidable deaths.
In addition to reporting, patient safety advocates also suggest that this information be made easily available to healthcare consumers. Many point out that in other areas of consumption, like hotels and restaurants, most people wouldn’t walk in the door without reading reviews or seeing information about other’s experience in the same place.
When New York hospitals were first required to report heat surgery deaths, fatality rates ranged from one percent to 18 percent. After the reporting started and hospitals were more accountable, the overall fatality rate decreased by 83 percent over the course of six years as safety became a major priority and staff started working together to eliminate patient risk.
Source: Wall Street Journal, “How to Stop Hospitals From Killing Us” Marty Makary, Sept. 21, 2012
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