An estimated 100,000 hospital patients die each year from hospital-acquired infections, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Approximately 1 in 20 patients suffer an infection from the hospital that's attempting to heal them. These statistics demonstrate the prevalence of this alarming issue, but they don't completely speak to the severity of these infections.
A New York jury recently delivered one of the largest medical malpractice damage awards ever in the Empire State. After a complicated trial, jurors believed that a Long Island, N.Y., girl and her family deserved $130 million for the birth injuries she suffered in 2002.
Last week, two studies released the results of an analysis of the impact of a 16-hour limit on residency shifts. This limit reduced the amount of time that doctors-in-training can work from 30 hours. Although observers and experts hoped that this step help improve patient safety by giving residents enough time to rest, the opposite appears to be happening.
One of the notorious challenges of medical school is the demanding residency requirement. Young doctors-in-training face rigorous schedules and extremely long on-call shifts. Until 2011, hospitals could require residents to put in 30-hour shifts. In 2011, the organization responsible for medical school introduced a lower limit by capping the shift length at 16 hours.
It will come as no surprise to our readers that hospital negligence can injure patients in unexpected but serious ways. A recent story is drawing new attention to these risks after a seemingly improbable situation left an 11-year-old girl with severe burns on 12 percent of her body.
Like any other job, heavy workloads make it much easier for doctors to make serious mistakes. A recent survey asked doctors about what they see happening when hospitals pack too many inpatient treatment responsibilities into their shifts. The results highlight far too many opportunities for dangerous mistakes.
If anything could make a cavity drilling even less pleasant and more nerve-wracking, it might be the realization that the dentist is dangerously drunk. One dentist is facing criminal charges after his staff called police to report his on-the-job intoxication. This surprising story from New York will resonate with any Ohioan who has ever endured the nervous discomfort of a dental procedure.
Sepsis has evaded hospital attention for far too long. Although it kills more people than breast cancer, strokes and lung cancer combined, hospitals often miss early sepsis warning signs and respond too late to save patients. As a result, sepsis is a leading cause of hospital deaths.
Hospitals use the term "never event" to refer to unacceptable surgical mistakes. "Never events" include mistakenly forgetting a surgical instrument inside a patient's body (known as a "foreign retained object"), performing the wrong procedure, or operating on the wrong body part.
The first results of a two-year perinatal safety initiative shows that better hospital practices can sharply reduce many preventable birth injuries. By finding that hospitals can avoid as many as 30 percent of these injuries, the study shows that Ohio can make big progress in the near future. Given the potentially severe consequences of birth injuries, there is no excuse for failing to implement similar strategies at hospitals around the country.