If you were to imagine the top ten major causes of death for people in America, what do you imagine would be on that list? Would you put preventable medical errors, which are made by people, possibly in nursing homes, tasked with keeping you healthy on the list? According to a recent report by the American Association for Justice's recent report entitled "Standing Up for Seniors: How the Civil Justice System Protects Elderly Americans," preventable medical errors is sixth on the list of major causes of death. Hundreds of thousands of Americans are killed or seriously injured by preventable medical errors every year!
Errors are a problem that affect everyone, but seniors are particularly vulnerable, especially seniors neglected in nursing homes. While representing just 13% of the population, senior citizens account for 34% of all adverse drug reactions. And of the 1.9 million adverse drug effects suffered every year by those in long term care, 70% are preventable! These problems are exacerbated when hospital administrators, who often put profits over people, and fail to make necessary changes because they deem these changes too costly.
One such example of this was Bridgeport Hospital in Connecticut. It was plagued by infections caused by poor hygiene, poor habits on the part of doctors and nurses, and inadequate facilities. One patient, Gloria Bonaffini, went into Bridgeport for routine heart surgery. She was supposed to be home within a week, but she never left. Due to medical errors on the part of the hospital, Gloria contracted a staph infection inside her sternum and spent more than a year in the hospital before she eventually died.
Unfortunately, Gloria's case was no fluke. Bridgeport's faulty ventilators filled the air with dust and flies buzzed ominously overhead during open-heart surgery. Doctors and nurses wore non-sterile clothing and often failed to wash their hands. Due to these medical errors, as many as 22% of surgical patients entering the same operating room as Gloria came out with infections.
Cost concerns may be behind hospital's refusal to implement necessary changes like the ones responsible for the death of Gloria Bonnafini, but medical malpractice litigation is addressing this issue. First, litigation allows patients to seek justice for their injuries. Second, litigation helps systemic problems such as these come to light. In the Bridgeport case, these problems only surfaced after the lawsuit was filed. Lastly, the civil justice system encourages providers and hospitals to institute patient safety systems that help prevent negligent medical errors. In the case of Bridgeport Hospital, suits on behalf of patients killed or injured by preventable infections prompted administrators to start a $30 million renovation. The hospital upgraded its air filtration system and hand washing stations. It also made changes to staff practices, such as prohibiting doctors from wearing scrubs home. These improvements made a huge improvement to infection rates -- from 22% of cardiac surgery patients to nearly zero.
What to do if you or a loved one was the victim of a medical error?
If you believe that you or a loved one has been the victim of a preventable medical error, you should seek legal advice. Call 800-849-4905 to speak with an experienced elder abuse lawyer. If you want to know your rights; want to know what your case is worth; want compensation; want justice; would you like to ensure the same thing doesn't happen to other patients? Call today. The call is free. The advice may be priceless.
Call the personal injury lawyers in Los Angeles at Bisnar Chase Personal Injury Attorneys for a free professional evaluation of your rights by attorneys who have been representing victims of medical malpractice and senior abuse since 1978. You will experience award winning representation and outstanding personal service by a compassionate and understanding law firm in a comfortable environment.