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Can the Health Care Industry Do More to Protect Patients?

It’s no secret that medical errors are linked to deaths and serious injuries each year. Back in 1999, a report called “To Err is Human” concluded that as many as 98,000 Americans were dying each year from mistakes in hospitals.

The report sounded alarms not only in the medical industry, but in Congress. Lawmakers required the industry to monitor its progress in reducing harm to patients. The health care industry set an ambitious goal to reduce the number of deaths from medical errors by 50 percent in five years.

Despite efforts to address the medical error problems, not much has changed over the past 20 years, according to an article in Time written by a professor at Johns Hopkins University.

The author points to a September 2019 report on patient safety written by the World Health Organization (WHO). Here are some of the findings:

  • About 10 percent of hospitalized patients experience hospital-acquired infections.
  • About 40 percent of patients in primary and outpatient care are harmed by medical errors.
  • Millions of people are harmed by diagnostic and medication errors.

The industry took the wrong approach

According to the Time article, the 1999 “To Err is Human” report offered suggestions that the medical industry ignored. For example, the report called for experts outside of the industry to take a hard look at patient safety and offer ideas to prevent medical errors.

Instead of asking for outside help, clinician managers and other administrators in health care took over the task of overseeing patient safety. As insiders, they looked out for their own industry interests. They avoided taking a comprehensive approach to the crisis which might have upset the status quo.

In addition, they failed to listen to advice from outside experts who could have offered innovative ideas to improve safety. What’s more, ideas that came from medical managers failed to address innovations aimed at resolving problems, like look-alike/sound-alike drugs (medications that have spelling similarities or visually appear the same).

The author of the Time article concludes that the medical industry must reach out to outside experts to reduce the crisis around medical errors. The problem is too big to rely on medical professionals alone. A multidisciplinary approach involving input from sociologists, psychologists, organizational behaviorists, and others could have a meaningful impact.

How an attorney can help medical error victims

It’s appalling the industry has failed to take appropriate steps to reduce errors 20 years after the landmark “To Err is Human” report. As experienced medical malpractice attorneys in Syracuse, we know how medical errors can devastate families. An error might be due to a medication mix-up, a diagnostic error or some other act of negligence. Whatever the cause of the error, victims and their families should speak to an experienced attorney to understand their rights.

Unfortunately, errors caused by medical professionals continue to result in tens of thousands of deaths each year. If you lost a loved one, contact a knowledgeable lawyer. Contact Cherundolo Law Firm today in Syracuse for a free case consultation.