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New Federal Program Aims at Eliminating Medical Errors

Kathleen Sebelius, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, announced on April 12th that her department will spend $1 billion on an initiative known as Partnership for Patients. The program aims to cut down on the medical mistakes, injuries, and infections that plague the nation’s hospitals.

Quantifying Medical Mistakes

The number of medical errors is nothing short of astonishing. A study by the Texas Medical Institute of Technology found that around TWO HUNDRED THOUSAND (200,000) people die each year from preventable medical errors or injuries sustained from medical practices. We believe that number may be low, as it depends on self-reporting by the hospitals. In our experience, many medical errors are not reported.

Don Berwick, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, believes that as many as one in seven hospital patients are injured in some way from their care.

Again, what makes these figures even more disturbing is the fact that approximately 90 percent of all hospital mistakes, injuries or infections go unreported. The data indicate that as many as one in three Medicare patients may fall victim of a medical mistake, injury, and infection.

How the Program Will Work

The goal of the Partnership for Patients is to decrease the number of medical mistakes and post-treatment injuries and infections that occur each year. Sebelius believes the program will save 60,000 lives and up to $35 billion in health care costs. It will be funded through the recently passed healthcare reform bill.

The Partnership hopes to persuade hospitals to make reforms in their processes and post-surgery procedures. For example, a hospital in the Denver Health network has the lowest rate of blood clots in patients’ legs in the country. It saves $15,000 each month by implementing standardized processes for care, and $200,000 per year by not overusing antibiotics.

The premise of the partnership program is to promote these best practices – and therefore prevent medical errors from occurring. We believe that this is the intelligent and humane approach to medical malpractice reform. This means dealing with the root of the problem: unnecessary medical mistakes that kill and maim patients. The problem should not be swept under the carpet by making the victims bear the entire cost of the malpractice that was inflicted upon them.

Conclusion

If you or a loved is victim of a medical mistake or post-surgery injury or infection, contact a New York medical malpractice attorney at our firm. An experienced lawyer can help you understand your legal options for pursuing appropriate compensation.

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