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Medical mistakes lead to stiff penalties for hospitals

A string of both prestigious and lesser-known medical facilities were penalized recently, losing a full percentage of their Medicare reimbursements. The penalties were issued due to apparent medical mistakes which the federal government claims were avoidable. More than 271 medical centers outside the state of Hawaii were deemed to have much higher error rates than other facilities in 2013.

One report indicates that the nation's documented cases of infections, bed sores or other mix-ups caused by error showed a 17 percent decrease over a three-year span. However, just after releasing those statistics, the government cited hundreds of medical centers for not measuring up. A publication from the Institute of Medicine lists the number of annual deaths in America from avoidable medical error between 44,000 and 98,000. Over the past decade, this has led researchers to strive to develop better means for medical personnel to perform tasks which tend to lead to situations open to malpractice.

The United States Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality claims that the nation suffered 3.9 million avoidable hospital incidents in 2013. A new program entitled, "Hospital Acquired Condition Reduction" began issuing the Medicare reimbursement penalties in 2014. Hospitals are scored on infection rates occurring in conjunction with several common medical procedures. Any facility receiving a score above six is penalized.

While it is admirable that both the medical profession and government are taking steps to raise awareness toward and reduce the number of preventable medical mistakes currently experienced across the nation, the data suggests that there remains much room for improvements. In Hawaii, professional resources are available to advise any patient who believes that he or she has suffered illness or injury due to an avoidable error made by medical personnel. Seeking legal consultation can be helpful when trying to determine whether there is eligible cause for filing a medical malpractice claim.

Source: utsandiego.com, "Eight local hospitals fined for errors", Paul Sisson, Jan.10, 2015

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