Texas residents may think that most medical errors occur in hospitals, but a new report shows that as many as 4 in 10 patients in primary and outpatient healthcare settings are injured globally because of errors. Of these errors, 80% are deemed to have been preventable. The report comes from the Foundation for the Innovation and Development of Health Safety.
The report focused on the 34 countries that are part of the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development. Every year in these countries, over 8 billion people receive primary and ambulatory care. The poor quality of care in low- and middle-income countries leads to an annual 5.7 to 8.4 million deaths and a burden of $1.4 to $1.6 trillion due to lost productivity.
In the report, the three most common medical errors were drug and medication errors, surgical errors and diagnostic errors. In the U.S., surgical and perioperative errors tend to be behind the most fatalities, but adverse drug effects are contributing to more and more fatalities, too.
New technology, such as electronic health record systems and bar code medication administration systems, has reduced the number of errors by more than 50%, and more may be forthcoming. For instance, databases could be developed to identify potentially negative drug interactions. Diagnosis suggestion engines may also help improve patient safety.
When medical errors result in a serious injury, they can provide grounds for a malpractice claim. There must be evidence, though, that the doctor or other medical professional involved committed the error through negligence. Gathering this evidence may require the help of a lawyer and his or her team of investigators, so victims may want to set up a legal evaluation before anything else. The lawyer may handle all negotiations for a settlement covering medical expenses, lost wages and other losses.