You go to the hospital when you are sick or injured because you need medical treatment to get better. You don’t go to experience an “adverse event,” which is harm caused by medical malpractice. Yet, according to a new study released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, one in four American seniors who spend at least one night in the hospital experience an adverse event.
HHS’ Office of Inspector General studied the medical records of around 1 million patients on Medicare who were discharged from hospitals in October 2018. Of those patients, 258,323 experienced some form of adverse event. While many of these incidents were minor, about half of those with an adverse event were harmed enough to require interventions like a longer hospital stay or lifesaving treatment. Many suffered permanent harm or died.
Almost half of adverse events were preventable
Perhaps the worst part of the OIG report is that it considered 45% of the adverse events preventable. In other words, almost half of the harm the Medicare patients suffered in October 2018 would not have happened had a medical professional given them the standard of care they deserved. Examples in the report included unreasonable delays before performing necessary operations and providing overly aggressive pain management regimens after surgery.
In one case, the hospital delayed a patient’s intestinal surgery for five days. Forced to wait, the patient’s intestine condition got worse. Their abdomen filled with pus, and they went into septic shock that injured their kidney. The OIG report found no reasonable explanation for the delay.
Holding medically negligent facilities responsible
A serious adverse event can leave you permanently disabled or take the life of a loved one. Fortunately, you don’t have to bear the financial burden of this situation on your own. In Hawai’i, negligent hospitals and doctors can be sued for medical malpractice so you can seek financial compensation.