Did You Know One in Four Hospital Patients Experience Harm?

If you’re in a life-threatening situation, it’s natural to assume the hospital puts patient safety at the top of their priority list.

The reality? Patient safety in America sadly has a long way to go. 

A new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that approximately one in four hospital patients experienced an adverse event while in the hospital, and an estimated 23% were judged to be preventable. 

How is it that patient safety isn’t a given in the nation’s hospitals? And furthermore, why are botched surgeries, infections, adverse medication reactions, and misdiagnoses not only occurring, but happening often?! 

Most Common Issues That Lead to Accidents in Hospitals

In the report, 39% of adverse events were caused by medication, followed by surgery or other procedures at 30%. Patient care events (including falls or bedsores, usually considered preventable) caused 15% of incidents, followed by infections at 11%. Some of the most common issues contributing to mistakes in hospitals include:

  • Staff shortages
  • Broken or missing supplies
  • Patient safety is not a top priority for management
  • Management does not listen to nurses and doctors
  • Staff is disciplined for reporting issues
  • Poor working conditions for nurses
  • Weak or nonexistent error-reporting systems

Even Staff is Concerned About Patient Errors

Since the Covid-19 pandemic, nurses are exhausted and fatigued as a whole. Burnout is said to be affecting up to 38% of nurses every year. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) recently labeled burnout as an official medical diagnosis. What happens when health care workers are overworked and understaffed? They’re more prone to mistakes. 

Another recent report that surveyed patients AND nurses at 535 hospitals in two states found that staff is also concerned with the number of patient errors. Between 2005 and 2016, only 21% of hospitals showed sizable improvement. But some health care workers are reluctant to speak up for fear of retaliation. One nurse sued her former employer for wrongful termination, alleging she was fired after reporting a surgeon for falsifying mortality rate data. 

How to Choose the Right Hospital for Patient Safety

In the event of an emergency, the best hospital is the closest one! But if you need to schedule a future treatment or procedure, you want to make sure you choose the right hospital for your needs. Some factors to consider include insurance coverage, proximity to friends and family, visiting hours, specialist care, hospital ratings, and cost of care.

The Department of Health and Human Services has a guide for choosing the right hospital. The checklist contains the following steps:

  1. Learn about the care you need and your hospital choices, which you can accomplish by talking with your doctors or health care providers. 
  2. Think about your personal and financial needs, which means examining your insurance coverage and narrowing down your preferences. 
  3. Find and compare hospitals based on your condition and needs. You can also search online to compare the quality of hospitals you are considering. Some states have laws that require hospitals to report data about the quality and cost of their care. 
  4. Discuss your hospital options with family members or friends, and choose a hospital. 

Have You Been the Victim of a Medical Error? Contact Us Today.

As a general rule of thumb, you can report patient safety concerns or complaints to the Joint Commission or your state’s Department of Health. If you’ve been injured due to a medical error and wish to discuss the specifics of your case in a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer, please contact us today.