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Medicare Director Works To Reduce Hospital Errors

Hospital errors are an all too common occurrence. According to a 2010 federal government report, one in seven Medicare patients is harmed during a hospital stay.

These errors aren’t just costly. They harm – and sometimes even take – innocent lives.

In an effort to change this alarming pattern, Dr. Donald Berwick, the nationwide steward for Medicare and Medicaid, is leading a reform effort designed to reduce instances of medical negligence and other errors.

Hospital Error Causes and Cures

Medical errors can take a variety of forms and happen for a number of different reasons. Sometimes, nurses and doctors are overworked or overtired and fail to notice a sign or a symptom they otherwise would.

In other cases, confusing packaging can lead to the administration of an incorrect medication. As an example, one hospital experienced a disturbing trend of infant deaths because nurses were mistakenly administering epinephrine instead of vitamin E. Both came in brown bottles with similar blue and beige labels.

Distraction is another common cause of medical errors. One Georgia hospital noticed that distracted nurses were making a number of dangerous mistakes and, in response, instituted a “quiet zone” where nurses can place orders without being distracted. As a result, medication errors have dropped by two-thirds.

Dr. Berwick is pushing hospitals to adopt similar safety measures. So far, he has helped a hospital system in Texas nearly eliminate birth injuries. He also helped a Pittsburgh hospital system reduce infection rates for hip and knee replacement to near-zero.

California Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

Although these reductions are certainly good news, medical errors still occur with relative frequency. Victims are often left with disabling injuries, lost wages and a stack of expensive medical bills. In the worst cases, they do not survive.

Victims of hospital errors may have the ability to recover for their injuries by pursing a medical malpractice lawsuit.

If you have been injured by a hospital error, medication error or other form of medical negligence, talk to a medical malpractice attorney who can help you understand your options.