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The serious mistakes hospitals make and would rather not discuss

Kentucky readers may take an interest in the issue of serious hospital errors and the efforts of non-profits and advocacy groups to make hospital safety records public information. One such non-profit, The Leapfrog Group, represents employers and other healthcare purchasers. They have compiled a list of the most serious mistakes that hospitals make, mistakes that they call never events, meaning that these hospital errors should never happen. According to a study conducted by Johns Hopkins University, some of the most serious events take place approximately 11 times every day. When all events on the list are accounted for, both surgical and non-surgical, they occur around 200 times per day to Medicare beneficiaries alone.

In some cases, hospitals have been known to bill patients and their insurance companies to fix the mistake. For example, if an object remains in a person's body following a surgery, the hospital may charge the patient for its removal. This is something that has bothered employers and other healthcare purchasers for a long time.

The Leapfrog Group has adopted a set of purchasing principles, which includes the refusal to pay for a never event and a requirement that the hospital apologize to the patient. Medicare has begun to require hospitals to report publicly on these events; however, the American Hospital Association and its lobbyists do not agree. They do not want to publicly disclose hospital data on never events. The reason that they gave is that the government was not measuring hospitals in a fair way.

Hospital mistakes are a serious matter and may result in adverse health consequences for patients. Anyone who has been negatively affected by a medical error may be entitled to compensation. An experienced Kentucky personal injury lawyer may be able to help patients obtain a fair settlement.

Source: Forbes, "Bone-chilling mistakes hospitals make and why they don't want you to know", Leah Binder, July 15, 2013

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