For years, the top Chicago medical malpractice attorneys of Passen & Powell have been fighting against preventable medical errors. We believe that our society cannot rest until patients entering hospitals are safe from the very hospitals and physicians they trust. Unfortunately, we have become increasingly convinced that the situation in America’s hospitals is becoming steadily worse, especially for patients without private insurance.
Now, a report issued by the Inspector General of the federal Department of Health and Human Services illustrates exactly how bad the problem has become. The report took data from late 2008 and fully analyzed the records to determine exactly what had occurred. What was uncovered shows that Medicare patients must gamble with their lives and health in order to receive hospital care.
In fact, a shocking one in seven medicare patients who undergoes treatment at a hospital suffers harm from that same hospital, whether in the form of infection, medical error, injury from neglect (such as bedsores), or negative reactions to drug interactions or known or unknown drug allergies. This means that each month in America, around 134,000 Medicare patients suffer adverse consequences from a hospital stay. Even more shockingly, the report estimates that nearly half of these injuries – forty-four percent – were demonstrably preventable.
Of the Medicare patients who were harmed during their hospital stay, 1.5 percent died as a result of that hospital-inflicted harm. Although that percentage may seem small, that impression is deceptive. That 1.5 percent represents 15,000 medicare recipients who are losing their lives each month. Our top medical malpractice lawyers are angered by these unnecessary deaths.
The problem is certainly not limited to Medicare recipients. Indeed, ten years ago the Institute of Medicine warned that nearly 100,000 people die each year from medical mistakes. As the figures from the new medicare report illustrate, this figure has skyrocketed over the past decade. And Medicare recipients are particularly vulnerable: these individuals tend to have the least access to high-quality healthcare, and the least ability to affirmatively “shop” hospitals and choose the facility at which they will receive care.
It is more than time for our society to step up and confront this shocking situation. There is no excuse for allowing tens of thousands of our fellow Americans to endure the consequences of hospital negligence, up to and including pain, sickness, disability and death. It is especially inexcusable when the most vulnerable among us are exposed to this negligence.
Our nation’s bureaucrats, lawmakers and regulators have – simply put – failed to protect us from the hospitals that are supposed to cure us. The only means that remains to reign in these for-profit medical monsters is through litigation. Only when the victims of medical malpractice, and the family members they leave behind, step up and take action against these hospitals and doctors will we ever really see change. These institutions cannot be made to change by appealing to their hearts: we must appeal to their pocketbooks. If you or someone you love has suffered an adverse event while hospitalized, we encourage you to seek out an experienced medical malpractice attorney and explore your options.
For a free consultation with an experienced Chicago personal injury lawyer at Passen & Powell, call us at (312) 527-4500.