A few years ago, a Johns Hopkins study found that medical errors were the third leading cause of death in the United States. According to that study, medical errors killed more than 250,000 Americans just in 2016 and accounted for 10% of all U.S. deaths. Another study by the Journal of Patient Safety estimated that medical errors claimed as many as 440,000 lives every year.
From those statistics alone, it’s clear that medical errors are a terrible source of needless pain and suffering. One edit of the best ways to reduce medical errors is through proper staffing of medical facilities. In this article, we’ll discuss the current information showing the effect of proper staffing on lessening medical errors.
If you think you have been harmed by a medical error or medical malpractice, you should reach out to a qualified injury lawyer right away.
The Demonstrated Role of Proper Staffing in Reducing Medical Errors
A few preliminary experiments indicate that proper staffing plays a significant role in reducing medical errors.
Case Study #1: The Children’s Medical Center Experiment
In 2014, the emergency department at Children’s Medical Center in Dallas (CMCD) massively cut down on medical errors by hiring additional staff. CMCD specifically attempted to reduce medication errors, which can be caused by bad handwriting, unclear labels, and poor packaging. In a high-intensity environment like an emergency room, even minor misprints can lead to a needless death.
To fight these medication errors, the hospital decided to employ 10 full-time emergency pharmacists to review every medication order in real-time. Together, these 10 pharmacists reviewed approximately 20,000 medication orders every week. In addition, the pharmacists were available 24/7 to conduct consultations with nurses and ER physicians. Thanks to these efforts, the center’s incidence of medication errors decreased from 8% to less than 1%.
Case Study #2: Pediatric Hospital Prescription Review Experiment
In a separate study, researchers evaluated the University of Maryland Hospital for Children’s General Pediatric and Pediatric Intensive Care Services unit. For 30 days, pediatric discharge prescriptions were faxed to a special pediatric clinical pharmacist. The pharmacist then looked at each prescription to see if there were errors in medication selection, dosing, and the patient’s identifying information. Over the 30-day period, the pharmacist reviewed 74 prescriptions. Shockingly, the pharmacist found errors in over 80% of the prescriptions. Some of the prescriptions even had multiple errors. In total, the pharmacist found and corrected a total of 101 prescribing errors. The researchers calculated the estimated cost-savings of the prescription review to be approximately $7,670. Consequently, even one additional medical worker can lead to significant medical error reduction.
Case Study #3: Columbia Nursing Study Links Lack of Proper Staffing with Significant Increase in Infections
In 2019, the Columbia University School of Nursing found a strong association between the lack of proper nurse staffing and an increase in “healthcare associated infections.” The study assessed data from a hospital system in a large urban area that had more than 100,000 patients. Given the study’s large population size, its findings were surprising. The study found that patients on understaffed hospital units had a 15% higher chance of developing infections related to their medical care compared to hospital units that had proper staffing. The study’s authors found that a lack of proper staffing resulted in excessively high workloads for the remaining personnel. The authors then theorized that higher workloads lead to reduced personnel performance, higher staff burnout, and worse infection prevention.
The Costs of Medical Errors
Yet another study found that having proper staffing to review prescription labeling led to significant reduction of medical error. During the experiment, researchers polled the involved medical staff. The poll revealed that 95% of the medical personnel believed that having additional staff to review medical choices improved patient safety. After researchers published the study’s findings, NPR asked one of the study’s authors, James Svenson, why hospitals did not hire additional staff to review prescriptions. Svenson responded that the main reason was money.
Although no one would claim that hiring additional staff is cheap, the alternative is far worse. With a lack of proper staffing, medical errors can paralyze, incapacitate, and even kill patients. Assuming the patients survive, the resulting medical costs and litigation fees can cost hospitals millions of dollars. According to the non-profit public advocacy group Public Citizen, the cost of medical errors in Kentucky is between $244 million to $416 million dollars every year. Clearly, the costs of medical errors far exceed the cost of hiring sufficient staff. Yet despite the benefits of proper staffing, few hospitals seem willing to hire more personnel.
Your Other Remedy: Legal Action
Because hospitals often refuse to hire sufficient medical personnel to prevent medical errors, patients suffer harm and death. When that happens, the only way to hold a hospital accountable is through the law. Medical malpractice lawsuits can cost hospitals extraordinary amounts of money, forcing them to correct bad practices and take care of their patients.
Let Our Dedicated Louisville Medical Error Attorney Help You Fight for Your Rights
If you or a loved one has suffered because of medical malpractice, you are well aware of how a person’s life can be turned upside down. Recovery from a needless medical error can take years and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical costs and lost wages. On top of that, victims often have to contend with manipulative insurance companies or hospital systems. That’s why anyone who has been on the receiving end of medical malpractice needs a good attorney.
However, it’s important that you pick the right lawyer—someone with knowledge, experience, and a great reputation.
At Gladstein Law Firm, PLLC, we want you to feel confident when you choose us. We have been tremendously successful in taking negligent parties to court and holding them accountable. And unlike other law firms, we don’t want you to let money be an issue. That’s why we offer all our potential clients a free initial consultation with no strings attached. We will even come to you if you are in a hospital or are unable to travel.
We’re standing by to give you the assistance you need, so let us help you obtain the compensation you deserve. Call us at 800-991-0474 or contact us online to get started today.