Medical consumers in South Carolina will be concerned to learn that, according to Institute for Safe Medication Practices, many hospitals don't have policies in place regarding the safe use of syringes. Reusing contaminated syringes is one of the major causes of the spread of Hepatitis C, Hepatitis B and HIV in medical environments. This hospital negligence is a form of medical malpractice that can gravely harm patients.
Common opinion is that technology and computerized equipment can minimize human error and increase the performance of medical professionals in hospitals around the globe. Yet, one study has found that even technological tools lead to medical errors, and they actually do so at a much higher rate than previously thought.
When clinicians fail to follow sanitary procedures, they may place the health of their patients at risk. Some cases of patient injury may alarm residents of South Carolina, but knowledge of these types of hospital neglect can help in the identification of cases of medical malpractice. According to a team leader at the CDC Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion, cases of infectious disease spread through unsafe injection practices are not as uncommon as once thought.
South Carolina patients and patients elsewhere may not be being given the treatment they need if hospital workers have "alarm fatigue." According to a hospital accrediting group, nonstop beeping from hospital monitoring devices may lead to workers tuning out the noises. This increases the chances that patients will not be treated in a timely manner and that medical malpractice may occur. The group believes that, on average, at least 24 deaths a year occur due to alarm fatigue. However, according to reports from the FDA, the number may be far greater. Between January 2005 and June 2010, the FDA found links between 500 deaths and hospital alarms; however, the reports include equipment malfunctions, so the cause of death may not be related to alarm fatigue.
South Carolina residents may be aware that researchers have made a counterintuitive discovery that shorter shifts for resident doctors in hospitals lead to a greater number of errors. According to two studies being published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, misdiagnosis and other medical errors are more likely when residents work 16 hours without a break as opposed to 30 hours. The goal of the medical oversight board shortening shifts for residents was to reduce errors made by sleepy doctors according to a study done by the University of Michigan Medical School. However, in practice, residents working the shorter shift are 15 to 20 percent more likely to make a mistake. Two possible reasons for this are that residents are not sleeping more in spite of shorter shifts and increasing "handoff risks." When a patient does not have the same medical professional looking after them for an extended period of time, important diagnostic information may be missed.
According to a senior vice president with The Doctors Company, which is the largest U.S. provider of medical malpractice insurance for physicians, hospital-based physicians face a higher number of malpractice claims than primary care physicians. Medical malpractice claims against hospitalists also tend to carry a higher dollar value. This disparity between physicians working in different environments has led insurance companies to craft separate policies for the approximately 35,000 hospitalists.Why are hospitalists, who receive the same training as other medical doctors, at higher risk of malpractice suits? Medscape Today suggests several reasons for the difference. When patients are admitted to a hospital, the hospitalist generally takes over the role of the primary care physician. Primary physicians build relationships with their patients by learning how they communicate and gathering background information. Hospitalists lack these resources, which is a problem often compounded by greater job stress. The stress factor was highlighted by a Johns Hopkins survey of hospitalists. It showed that 40 percent of doctors believed hospital admittances routinely went above safe levels. Almost as many doctors claimed this occurred once per week.
Hospitalization is often necessary to treat serious illnesses, but patients in South Carolina and throughout the country need to take a few steps to insure the safest stay possible. There have been an estimated 1.5 million medication errors every year, according to a recent study by the National Patient Safety Foundation, and over 1,000 other serious mistakes that have caused unnecessary deaths or worsening of illness. Notable cases included a man who lost his leg when a post surgical drain was left in too long and newborns who have died of Heparin overdoses.Unless a patient is facing an emergency, he or she should take the time to investigate the hospital and other providers that will be in charge of their care. Many people do not do this, but it can be as simple as looking up the prospective hospital and physician online and verifying all their licensing. Many resources can be found at the Agency for Health Research and Quality. Institutional and physician safety records are more available now than they ever have been, and patients may want to take advantage of this information.
A startling statistic has been peppering recent media coverage related to healthcare. Every week, medical errors kill enough American patients to fill four jumbo-sized jets. Yet when planes crash, these incidents make headlines. The vast majority of fatal medical errors resulting from hospital negligence and other preventable causes pass by unnoticed by all but the victims' loved ones.
A recent study highlights the ill effects that the 25 million Americans with limited English proficiency uniquely suffer when they seek medical help.