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The High Costs of Medical Errors

Medical errors cost Americans $19.5 billion in 2008, a new study reveals. The research by the Society of Actuaries includes not only medical costs, but also the expenses associated with higher mortality rates and lower productivity created by an annual 1.5 million measurable errors made by doctors, nurses, hospitals and others.

The report based on insurance claims data estimates medical errors cause more than 2,500 preventable deaths and lead to the loss of more than 10 million days of work.

The study breaks down statistics for a number of avoidable medical errors, including bed sores, post-operation infections and medical device or implant complications, among others.

Medical Errors Add Up

The report lists 55 medical errors that cost at least $10 million each year. Some of the errors are all too common and costly:

  • Bed sores (pressure ulcers): 394,699 cases reported
  • Post-op infections: 265,995
  • Medical complications of device, implant or graft: 268,353
  • Complications from hemorrhages:156,443
  • Hematoma complications: 101,259
  • Infection due to catheter: 13,515
  • Object left in body (following surgery or other procedure):12,305
  • Adverse effect of drugs or medication due to error: 38,934

For some patients, the errors made by fatigued, overworked or simply negligent doctors, nurses and other health care personnel will cause long-term damage. In tragic cases, medical errors even kill patients.

Long-term Impact of Errors

The impact on patients of medical errors varies widely, depending on the type of error, the health of the patient, the degree to which the error can be mitigated, and other factors.

For many patients, an error during surgery or in post-op can mean follow-up surgeries to not only correct the error and achieve the medical objectives of the initial operation, but also surgeries to repair the damage caused by the error.

Naturally, these surgeries are extremely expensive and impose tremendous physical and emotional strains on the patient and family. Like many other types of medical errors, an error in surgery can lead to long-term loss of income, painful physical rehabilitation and psychological stress.

Part of the Healing Process

An important part of the healing process for any patient who suffers an injury due to medical error is ensuring that those responsible for the preventable mistake are held responsible for the costs associated with it. Ohio patients who are needlessly harmed by doctors, nurses or other medical personnel should contact an Ohio medical malpractice attorney who can assess the facts of the case and help determine who is at fault and who is liable for damages.

If you or a member of your family suffered injury because of an error in treatment or diagnosis, or because of substandard care, speak with a medical malpractice lawyer about your legal options.

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