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Surgical errors may be on the decline, but long way to go


Many Pittsburgh residents will undergo surgery at some point in their lifetime. Patients who need to undergo hospitalization expect that they will receive expert care with little to no adverse effects. Unfortunately, thousands of patients suffer from hospital errors each year, many of them dying because of the error.

Surgical errors have long been common across the medical community, causing unexpected injuries and worsened conditions. Recently the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality reported that more than 1.3 million fewer patients were harmed in the hospital between 2010 and 2013. The decline of hospital errors may be attributed to the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act which "introduced financial penalties for poor quality performance" and also established a learning collaborative to improve patient safety.

Experts say that it is too soon to say that the hospital errors that have plagued the medical community have now been fixed. Some experts say that performance measurements may be unreliable. Also other medical negligence matters such as misdiagnosis, unnecessary procedures and others are not included in the quality report. Reliable measurements of medical issues continues to be a problem. It can be hard to measure things that have clinical variability. Hospital-acquired conditions were also deemed to be too high.

Any effort made to improve patient safety in hospitals is welcome and necessary. Patients put their full trust into hospitals believing that they can make their condition better. When they fail the patient, whether because of a careless surgeon, medical professional or other reason, patients have the right to hold them accountable for their negligence.

Source: Modern Healthcare, "Despite progress on patient safety, still a long way across the chasm," Sabriya Rice, Dec. 6, 2014

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