The Betsy Lehman Center for Patient Safety has released its most recent findings, and they aren’t very good. The Center tracks public health outcomes for the state of Massachusetts, and was created in response to the death of a 39-year-old mother of two due to medical error. The center was founded over a decade ago, and though things have become better over time, there is still a long way to go.
There are many interesting facts in the full reports. One of the most interesting was the discovery that almost all the improvements in preventing death and injury due to medical error has occurred in hospitals. Clinics and other outpatient environments have made almost no progress when it comes to preventing this type of adverse events.
On first glance, the fact that all the progress occurred in hospitals is reassuring, because we instinctively assume that most major medication errors occur in hospitals. And while this is mostly true, there are a number of issues with only improving inpatient systems, including:
- The fact that a quarter of all major medical errors stem from errors by general practitioners outside of the hospital environment
- Another quarter of adverse effects, though caused by an event in the hospital, are not discovered until after discharge
- People in outpatient services are less likely to catch a potentially fatal adverse effect in time
If you or someone you love was injured or killed due to medical error, it can be extremely difficult to learn just what happened. All too often hospitals, doctors, and nurses close ranks, and because our loved one was already ill we assume that it was the disease and not the treatment that harmed them. Don’t make this assumption. Remember, these errors exist across the board, not just in hospitals. If you or a loved one experienced a decline in health you suspect was related to medical error, please contact an attorney experienced in helping people just like you get answers.