Baltimore Medical Malpractice Lawyers: Hospitals Struggle to Improve Injury Rates

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The past four years have seen an overall improvement in hospital injury rates. While this seems promising, there are concerns that further progress may be more challenging. Hospital injury rates held steady in 2014 after three years of declines, according to a recent federal report.

Since 2010, when Health Care Reform Bill was signed, many new patient safety initiatives have been directed at reducing the number of hospital-acquired injuries and infections. Some programs incorporate performance-based incentives and penalties for hospitals while others are aimed at streamlining patient care through a broader use of electronic records. This serves to both improve communication between health care providers in order to prevent mistakes, as well as track patient outcomes.

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) is tasked with tracking the progress of these initiatives. According to a report released this month by the AHRQ, there has been an estimated 17% reduction in hospital-acquired conditions, resulting in approximately 87,000 fewer patient deaths and a cost savings of roughly $19.8 billion. Most of these gains were made in the first three years of the study (2010 – 2013). No further improvements were made in 2014, suggesting hospitals need to do more going forward to protect patients from harm caused by medical mistakes.

Last year alone, there were at least four million infections and other potentially avoidable injuries in hospitals. That translates to about 12 out of every 100 hospital stays. The most common complications measured for the study included bedsores, falls, adverse drug reactions and kidney damage that developed after contrast dyes were used to take images of blood vessels.

According to the report, significant progress was made in lowering the number of infections from central lines inserted into veins – down 72% since 2010. Improvements were also seen in the rate of surgical site infections and urinary catheter infections. Some speculate that these improvements were a direct result of the financial incentives put forth under the new health reform laws.

Still, others worry that some of the newer policies involve tradeoffs that can cause other problems. Indeed, while some areas of hospital care have seemed to improve, others have stayed the same or even gotten worse. The report showed that hospitals have made no progress in reducing the number of falls or pneumonia cases in patients breathing through mechanical ventilators. Additionally, the rates of birth injuries and adverse drug reactions were higher than expected for 2014.

Some conditions became more prevalent in 2014. That year, there were an estimated 17,000 infections from methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteria – an increase of 55% over the previous year. Additionally, the number of times a doctor accidently punctured a femoral artery with a catheter during angiography rose by 25% to 74,000, according to the report.

Baltimore Medical Malpractice lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Obtain Compensation for Victims of Hospital Negligence

If you or a loved one has suffered a serious health complication as a result of a hospital stay, you may be entitled to substantial compensation. Contact the law firm of LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton at 800-547-4LAW (4529) today to schedule a free review of your case and discuss your legal options with one of our seasoned Maryland medical malpractice lawyers. A qualified member of our legal team is available to take your call 24 hours a day or you can contact us online.

Our offices are located in Baltimore, Columbia, Glen Burnie and Towson. We represent medical malpractice victims and their families throughout Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Maryland’s Western Counties, Southern Maryland and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of Catonsville, Essex, Halethorpe, Middle River, Rosedale, Gwynn Oak, Brooklandville, Dundalk, Pikesville, Parkville, Nottingham, Windsor Mill, Lutherville, Timonium, Sparrows Point, Ridgewood and Elkridge.