Articles Posted in Wrongful Death Due to Medical Negligence

surgery-676375_1280A new Johns Hopkins study establishes that medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States. The study calls on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to include medical errors in its annual list of the top causes of death in the United States.

This is not the first study that establishes the role of medical errors in causing injuries and fatalities across the country, but this study is garnering attention for two reasons.  First, it is from a respected institution like Johns Hopkins.  Second, the report calls on the US federal government to name medical errors as a leading cause of death in the country. That step would immediately increase awareness about the dangers patients face every year from medical negligence at hospitals and care facilities across the country.

The Johns Hopkins researchers are also calling for changes in the current system for death certification in order to better record medical errors that cause fatalities. The study estimates that there are more than 250,000 fatalities every year from medical errors. That means medical errors rank just below heart disease and cancer as the top causes of fatality in the United States. Medical errors kill more people every year than even respiratory disease.

hospital hallwaysWhen medical negligence results in a patient’s death, survivors of the deceased may be eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Questions of which family members or survivors are eligible to file a claim to recover wrongful death damages after a person’s death, or the parties that can be named in your wrongful death claim, are challenging to resolve. It is important to speak with an Indiana medical malpractice attorney if you are considering filing a claim for damages after the death of a loved one.

Often, the hospital, clinic or physician’s office, as well as the doctor or nurses may be named in a claim for wrongful death damages. Of course, this will depend on the exact details of the case and the kind of negligence that occurred. Filing a wrongful death claim for medical malpractice is very different from filing other types of wrongful death claims involving personal injury. When medical malpractice is involved, the law makes it more difficult for plaintiffs to claim damages against a healthcare provider.

Your claim will be subjected to a screening before it is filed. The screening will probe the merits of your case. Medical experts will be called in to determine whether negligence did indeed occur in your loved one’s case. In order to prove that the healthcare provider in your loved one’s case was negligent, you will also need an expert who will be able to establish that the doctor did indeed deviate from the acceptable reasonable standards of care for that particular condition, and in that particular situation.

downward tredsSome statistics seem to point to a clear trend: A decrease in the number of persons dying in hospitals since healthcare reform laws went into effect. It is too early to say, however, whether this drop is significant enough to matter and whether it points to a continual drop in fatalities in the future.

According to statistics in a new government report recently released, hospitals across the country have been able to reduce the rates of medical errors occurring in their facilities. Since 2010, they have been able to save approximately 87,000 patient lives. The report released by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality says that it is difficult to point out to the exact reasons for this drop in fatalities. The report also falls short of predicting a continuance of the drop in the future. In fact, according to the statistics, progress in preventing patient fatalities seems to have stalled in the past year.

However, some experts believe that the provisions contained in the Affordable Care Act have contributed to a decline in patient fatalities overall. According to these experts, the Affordable Care Act has given hospitals an incentive to eliminate the rate of medical errors, because hospitals that show good results in preventing patient injuries and fatalities are rewarded for their performance.

checklist 0837A number of hospitals have established policies that are specifically aimed at reducing preventable medical errors in their facilities. That is good news for patients and families who receive their care in these hospitals. However, new statistics released by the Leapfrog Group indicate that more progress must be made in educating hospitals about the importance of reducing errors and protecting patients.

According to Leapfrog, as many as one in five hospitals in the United States have failed to establish a policy that would require the hospital to reduce the number of medical errors that occur in the facility. This means that nearly 80% of hospitals have failed to comply with the group’s standard for the prevention of medical errors and patient safety.  This number remained consistent between 2012 and 2014, the most current data available.

These statistics are not the only problems related to hospital compliance that Leapfrog has observed. According to the report, as many as one in six hospitals in the United States have high central line-associated infection rates.  One-in-ten hospitals have a very poor record in the prevention of catheter-associated urinary tract infections.  These are two of the most common infections that patients acquire in a hospital, and they are linked to much lengthier hospitalization stays, and even higher fatalities.

The failure of hospitals to implement safety measures is an unfortunate reality and one which places many Indiana patients and families at an on-going risk.  The Leapfrog organization provides up-to-date information for any hospital who agrees to participate.  Cities like New York and San Francisco have valuable information on their hospitals.  Amazingly, not one hospital in Indianapolis has provided data to the Leapfrog program.

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pressure%20cuff%200832210.jpgThere’s no denying that medical devices have made life safer and healthier for many of us. The devices accomplish a number of invaluable functions and have become more sophisticated with each passing year. However, many are still not designed to share data with other devices in the environment, requiring nurses and other healthcare personnel to manually enter the data into the devices and electronic medical records. That extra step in documentation increases the risk of medical errors.

In a new study of nurses, an overwhelming majority of them admitted that they believed medical errors could be reduced significantly if devices were made to communicate with one another. As many as 74% of the nurses in the study believed that it was extremely burdensome for them to manually coordinate data from these devices. About half of the nurses admitted that they have personally seen medical errors occurring because of this lack of device interoperability.
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syringe%20and%20ampule.jpgFocusing on decontamination of all patients in a hospital who may be at risk of suffering a hospital-acquired infection, and not just those who test positive for the MRSA superbug may help bring down overall hospital-acquired infections rates and MRSA infection rates within the facility.

That interesting new revelation came via a study published recently by the New England Journal of Medicine, and flies in the face of current recommendations by the US Centers For Disease Control And Prevention. The federal recommendations focus on testing of all incoming patients for MRSA and isolating the ones who have been contaminated by the superbug.

The research was based on a study of 74,250 patients. According to the researchers, patients in an ICU are already at a much higher risk of infection, and therefore, it makes sense to give everybody the anti-infection treatment, and not just those who have been detected with the MRSA superbug. The use of antibacterial soap and other measures to treat all patients in an intensive care unit, and not just those who test positive can help reduce MRSA infections.
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Regular assessment of the need to continue central line insertion and maintenance of lines can help reduce the risk of infection to pediatric patients in the ICU. According to results from a study that has just been published in the journal Pediatrics, when ICUs follow practices that are designed specifically for pediatric patients, they have a much higher chance of being successful in reducing infection rates.

The use of these pediatric-specific instructions has helped reduce the number of pediatric infectious in several hospitals. The rate of such infections fell from 5.2 per 1000 central line days to 2.3 per 1000 central line days at 29 participating hospitals. The reduction in such infections saved more than 100 lives, and $31 million in health care costs.
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hospital%20beds.jpgPatients who are hospitalized for treatment are just as likely to die from preventable medical errors, as they were a few years ago. There has been little progress in preventing these errors and saving patient lives, in spite of education campaigns and other efforts. That information comes from a study conducted at several North Carolina hospitals.

The researchers reviewed 2,341 patient records in 10 hospitals in North Carolina. They used a list of 54 red flags to indicate a possible adverse event, including readmission to hospital within a period of 30 days and bed sores. The study found at least 588 instances in which patients were harmed by medical care. That works out to approximately 25.1 injuries for every 100 hospital admissions. Those are staggeringly high numbers for any Indiana medical malpractice attorney to stomach.
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keyboard.jpgAs part of the Obama administration’s health care reform package, hospitals will be encouraged to shift from paper medical records to electronic records. So convinced is the administration about the efficacy of these electronic systems in preventing errors and reducing costs, that it has offered incentives to facilities that can speed up the process of shifting to electronic records. Unfortunately, the hurry to shift to an electronic system has been accompanied by poor staff training, computer glitches, and other factors that increase the risk of errors.

Last month, Huffington Post carried a report on how the shift to electronic medical records is being accompanied by increasing numbers of errors. According to data from the Food and Drug Administration, there have been scores of reports of adverse incidents resulting from the use of the electronic systems.
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IV%20drip.jpgEvery year, one particular type of medical infection kills approximately 30 percent of the estimated 99,000 people who died from hospital infections. Consumer Reports is discussing how hospitals around the country including Indiana hospitals, have been able bring down these infection rates through simple steps.

These infections are central line infections, and they are introduced through intravenous catheters that allow intensive care patients to receive medication, nutrients and fluids. The central lines have long catheters inserted into a large vein connected to the heart. These are different from regular IV lines, and can stay in place for months.
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