Medical Errors Can Be Reduced

Preventable medical errors kill thousands of Americans every year.
A recent study found that nearly one out of three hospital patients is harmed by the care they receive. The Institute of Medicine, an independent nonprofit organization within the National Academy of Sciences which works to provide unbiased advice to decision makers within the medical community, estimates that as many as 100,000 Americans die each year from preventable medical errors in hospitals. This is approximately the same number of annual deaths caused by auto accidents, AIDS, and breast cancer combined.
In the United States which has the world’s most skilled doctors and nurses and the finest hospitals, this statistic is unacceptable. These mistakes don’t just cause pain and anguish, but also add to skyrocketing health insurance bills for families, businesses, and government.
The Obama administration has begun partnering with health care systems and hospitals in an effort to reduce these costly often caused by fragmented delivery of care, missing data, and poor communication between providers.
In one example, the Seton Family of Hospitals in Texas has reduced serious complications during birth by 93 percent over the last decade by following best practices. And by making sure one group of asthma patients consistently gets the right follow-up care and appropriate preventive treatment, Seton reduced those patients’ emergency room visits by 37 percent and hospital stays by 63 percent.
This collaborative program between government and the health care industry is the Partnership for Patients. The Obama administration has joined with more than 1,200 other hospitals nationwide, along with hundreds of employers, health insurers, provider organizations, and patient advocates, to launch the unprecedented alliance that will promote innovations to improve hospital care and reduce wasteful spending.
The goals are ambitious — to reduce preventable injuries in hospitals by 40 percent and cut readmissions by 20 percent. Achieving these goals would save 60,000 lives and protect more than 1.6 million patients from complications that would put them back in the hospital.
Reducing preventable errors and unnecessary hospital readmissions would also save at least $50 billion over 10 years in Medicare costs alone. At a time when Medicare costs are expected to rise 91 percent over the next decade, this is a significant step in cost reduction.

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