Senior Patients at High Risk of Medical Errors

old%20hands.jpg Far too many senior patients are at risk of suffering injuries as a result of medical errors, including medication errors and errors in treatment. According to a disturbing new study, as many as one in five Medicare patients find themselves suffering medical injuries that are unrelated to their disease or medical condition.

The results of the research were published recently in the journal, Injury Prevention. According to the researchers, some of these errors included giving the wrong type of medications, allergic reactions to certain prescription drugs, or giving treatment that actually complicated existing diseases or medical problems. Overall, these medical injuries were not the result of any underlying disease or medical condition that the patients suffered. The injuries were due to inadequate or incorrect medical care. Moreover, most of these injuries occurred not in the hospital but during outpatient care.

There has been an increasing spotlight on adverse medical events linked to hospitalizations with little focus on the kind of injury that occur in outpatient clinics, doctor’s offices, outpatient surgery centers, nursing homes, emergency rooms, and other off-hospital settings. People who visit these facilities for treatment and care may be just as much at risk of being injured by medical error as they are when admitted into a hospital. Outpatient care therefore needs to be prioritized.

In the study, the researchers focused on more than 4,500 Medicare patients of an average age of 76, who made claims between 1998 and 2005. About 19% of these subjects had suffered at least one adverse medical event and of those, around 62 percent of the injuries occurred during outpatient care.

It is interesting to note that certain categories of seniors were at a much higher risk of suffering injuries as a result of medical errors. These included men from a lower socioeconomic background as well as people, who already suffered from chronic medical conditions, or disability. Also, with each month’s increase in age, the patient’s risk of a medical injury rose by another 1%. With each chronic condition that reported, there was an increase of 27% in the risk of suffering a medical injury as a result of an error.

Many of the injuries that occur in outpatient settings are often linked to overwork and over stressed doctors, lack of time to make a complete diagnosis, and failure to incorporate more sophisticated diagnostic techniques that would help physicians order tests quickly, and interpret those tests correctly, and arrive at a correct diagnosis in the minimum amount of time. Outpatient centers must spotlight and address these problem areas.

As Indiana medical malpractice lawyers, we often see patients suffer ill effects of the wrong medication or the wrong dose. The attorneys at Montross Miller Muller Mendelson and Kennedy, LLP represent victims of medical negligence across Indiana and are available to talk to you about your case. Call today.

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