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Federal agency finds decline in doctor and surgical errors


As residents of Norman, Oklahoma, who have experienced a painful surgical procedure, may know added discomfort when they discover that further visits to the doctor are required. Suffering a worsened condition subsequent to treatment can be even more worrisome, as can the realization that this medical setback is due to surgical errors. While the patient can take legal action to seek compensation and penalization of the surgeon for that person's mistake, the likelihood of future errors is not abated by a lawsuit.

However, according to a recent report compiled by U.S. Health and Human Services, a federal organization, such incidents are dropping in part due to insurance providers, including Medicare, denying reimbursement to hospitals, either in part or totally, for cases involving medical errors. The reduction, estimated at 17 percent during 2012 and 2013, translates into a 50,000 less in-patient hospital deaths or a $12 billion saving in medical expenses. The exertions of other agencies, like Partnership for Patients, spanning 3,700 hospitals, are another reason for fewer mistakes and repeat visits by patients.

The report takes into account such aspects as errors in medication and infections occurring while still on the site of the surgery which now occur less often, although the report also admits that the error rate is still at around 10 percent, a significant figure. Put together through examining records maintained by hospitals, the report highlights the fact that 1.3 million fewer medical conditions arose from hospital visits, a figure lower than as expected by a projection of 2010 numbers.

Given that patients usually consult a practitioner or surgeon rarely with any knowledge of their condition, it is a serious breach of trust on the doctor or surgeon's part if the doctor fails to maintain the required protocol while providing treatment. The availability of legal compensation does not lessen the pain and suffering caused by what are essentially avoidable mistakes.

Source: News9.com, "Report: 17 percent drop in hospital patient harm," Carla K. Johnson, Dec. 3, 2014

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