U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer’s Office recently issued a report entitled “Medical Errors” that discusses “the most common and devastating medical errors.”
In July 2013, Senator Boxer contacted Partnership for Patients (a public-private partnership funded through the Affordable Care Act), to inquire about the most common medical errors in the United States. As a result, the following 9 categories of medical errors were provided to the Senator’s Office: adverse drug events, catheter-associated urinary tract infections (among urinary tract infections acquired in the hospital, approximately 75% are associated with a urinary catheter; between 15% and 25% of hospitalized patients receive urinary catheters during their hospital stay), central line-associated blood stream infections, injuries from falls and immobility, obstetrical adverse events, pressure ulcers (bedsores), surgical site infections, venous thromboembolism (blood clots), and ventilator-associated pneumonia.
In February 2014, Senator Boxer wrote to 283 California acute care hospitals, inquiring about their efforts to reduce the 9 most common medical errors. About 53% (149) of the hospitals responded, resulting in the following findings discussed in Senator Boxer’s report: all of the responding hospitals reported taking at least some steps to address the most common medical errors; many hospitals agree on common approaches to reducing medical errors (many hospitals use uniform checklists and bundle systems for ventilator-associated pneumonia, catheter-associated urinary tract infection, and central line blood stream infection); and, some hospitals use unique approaches to prevent medical errors (Kaiser Permanente requires nurses to wear colored sashes or vests when dispensing medication to patients to prevent interruptions and distractions that could lead to medical errors; UCLA Medical Center disinfects hospital rooms using ultraviolet technology, prohibits the use of home-laundered scrubs, and bans doctors and other staff with open wounds, bandages, or casts from scrubbing into surgeries to help prevent infection; and, Desert Valley Hospital in Victorville reduced the number of surgical site infections from 16 in 2009 to 2 in 2013, after starting a program that rewards medical staff who are observed practicing good hand hygiene by entering them into a drawing for a chance to win a prize).
However, many of the hospitals cited “alarm fatigue” (when health care workers become desensitized to a large volume of equipment alarms) as a top patient safety concern.
To read more about the detailed findings and recommendations in Senator Boxer’s “Medical Errors” report, click here.
We are not sure how Senator Boxer is using the term “medical errors” in her report (“Medical errors are a quiet and largely unseen tragedy. Every year between 210,000 and 440,000 Americans die as a result of medical errors and other preventable harm at hospitals … [b]ased on these figures, medical errors could be considered the third-leading cause of death in America, behind heart disease (more than 590,000 a year) and cancer (more than 570,000 a year);” however, it appears that Senator Boxer is including not only harms caused by medical malpractice (the breach of the applicable standard of care under the circumstances) but also adverse outcomes due to non-negligent causes as well.
If you or a loved one may have been injured due to a medical error caused by medical negligence, you should promptly contact a local medical malpractice attorney in your U.S. state who may investigate your medical malpractice claim for you and represent you in a medical malpractice case, if appropriate.
Click here to visit our website or call us toll-free at 800-295-3959 to be connected with medical malpractice lawyers in your state who may assist you with your medical malpractice claim.
Turn to us when you don’t know where to turn.