death, and all the little accidents in between, chances are we'll all spend
some time in a hospital in our lifetimes. When we go there we expect a
healthy clean environment, medical competence and professionalism. We
expect to be treated with respect and to come out feeling whole and healed.
We don't expect to have the wrong body part operated on, to have foreign
objects left inside us, or any of the other avoidable mistakes being committed
in hospitals today. Last year the Oregon Patient Safety Commission reported
medical errors caused the deaths of at least 32 patients in Oregon.
Founded in 2003, the Oregon Patient Safety Commission has a simple vision,
"Health care for all Oregonians will be safe." They were founded
to combat the numerous
medical mistakes that happen every year resulting in injury and death. While things have
improved, they're still not at an acceptable level.
Medical negligence leading to serious
medical errors still happens on a regular basis and needs to be stopped.
In its lengthy report last year, the commission issued an ambitious goal,
"Oregon will have the safest healthcare delivery system in the nation."
They called it their North Star goal. This requires hospitals working
harder to eliminate
medical negligence that has plagued our healthcare system. As the report says, "Too
many people are harmed when seeking care. By most quality and safety metrics,
Oregon offers 'average' care at best." The report said that
while things have improved,
medical mistakes are still a huge problem in our healthcare system. We have a lot to improve
upon. In comparing crucial areas of
medical negligence over previous years, the report showed no improvement in one area: number
of objects left in patients after surgery. In fact, a staggering 21 times
in 2009 foreign objects were left in patients after surgery. This kind of
medical negligence is unacceptable, and the Oregon Patient Safety Commission is hoping to
eliminate it entirely.
Overall 136 incidents of adverse events were reported by hospitals in 2009.
Though 22% resulted in minimal harm, that's still an unacceptable
number. According to the report, serious injury or death were the results
in about half the cases. 11.8% of reported adverse incidents were due
to medication errors, and 6.6% were due to "wrong site surgeries".
These are serious
medical mistakes. Time is also of the essence. In fact 5.9% of adverse events were due
to a delay in medical care.
Medical malpractice in Oregon is a serious issue, yet almost as shocking as its prevalence, is the fact
that often little is done about it. Many criticize the American Medical
Association of ineffective supervision of its licensed physicians and
in failing, when appropriate, to issue appropriate discipline. The Oregon
Patient Safety Commission is trying to improve communication and increase
safety by asking doctors to have checklists, but what happens when costly
medical mistakes are made? According to MedicalMalpractice.com, "Fewer than one-half
of 1% of the nation's doctors face any serious state sanctions each
year." That's only a small portion of the number of
medical mistakes made each year. According to the site, "Few medical errors ever result
in legal claims. Only one malpractice claim is made for every 7.6 hospital
injuries, according to a Harvard study. Furthermore, plaintiffs drop 10
times more claims than they pursue, according to Physician Insurer Association
of America data."
The Oregon Patient Safety Commission is working to reduce
medical malpractice in Oregon, but in the meantime, patients have to stand up for their rights. If you've
been the victim of
medical negligence, don't be intimidated by hospital rhetoric. You're entitled to
medical mistakes that have been made, and entitled to copies of all your medical records.
Angel Law, P.C.'s
Portland personal injury lawyer may be able to help. We can guide you through the process of filing a
claim, should you choose to do so. In order to reduce avoidable medical
mistakes and improve hospital care for everyone, hospitals and medical
providers must be accountable for their preventable medical mistakes.