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Does the review of hospital negligence cases protect patients?

It might surprise Illinois readers that here in the United States, the third most common cause of death is medical mistakes. In fact, in 2013, nearly 251,000 people died from errors caused by medical professionals. Some are looking at hospital negligence claims to determine those actions that seem to cause the most errors overall and/or in a particular hospital in the hopes of making the changes necessary to eliminate -- or at least reduce -- the number of errors.

The Doctors Company, which is a medical malpractice insurer owned by physicians, conducted numerous studies involving over 10,000 medical malpractice claims in recent years looking for commonalities and trends both across the industry and specific to certain hospitals. The information was then disseminated to hospitals and doctors. It is hoped that the data provided is used in order to help avoid common pitfalls. 

The company that insures the Harvard Medical School conducts similar data mining in order to help improve the ability of physicians to come to a correct patient diagnosis the first time. Scripps-Mercy, a hospital in San Diego, California, used data provided by The Doctors Company, regarding claims filed for inadequate emergency room care. The data indicated that numerous claims were filed because a physician failed to adequately determine whether a patient had foreign material or an infection in a wound site. Scripps-Mercy then adjusted its procedures accordingly.

The efforts to lessen the number of medical mistakes could end up saving patients from serious injuries or death. However, even under the best of circumstances, mistakes will still be made since doctors, nurses and other hospital personnel are human. When that happens, Illinois residents -- or their families in the event of death -- retain the right to file hospital negligence claims, which could end up preventing another person and/or family from having to endure the same tragedy.

Source: CNBC, "Health providers research malpractice suits to improve safety", Dan Mangan, May 10, 2016

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