Medical Errors and Patient Safety 44 E. Mifflin St., Suite 103 Madison, WI 53703 608-257-5741 www.watl.org
Today 40% of Americans say the quality of health care has gotten worse over the past five years.
We need Health Care Reform • Health-care premiums have soared almost 60% in the last 4 years. • Wisconsin workers have seen premiums rise 49%, while wages have crept up only 12.2%. • We now have 45 million uninsured Americans • Each day more than one jumbo jet full of people die as a result of medical errors; that’s as many as 195,000 Americans annually.
According to the insurance industry it’s … Frivolous Malpractice Lawsuits
Their solution Attack patients’ rights and limit injured patients and their families right to hold bad medical professionals accountable
The real facts: • Malpractice costs account for only 40 cents out of every $100 spent on Wisconsin healthcare. • From September 1990 through December 2002, an average of only 101 people per year in Wisconsin received compensation for injuries caused by medical negligence, ranking 49th of the 50states.
With such low costs, the medical industry has invented a new cost “black hole” Defensive Medicine
The facts • some defensive medicine is good medicine • managed care discourages bad defensive medicine • doctors do defensive medicine because they make money from defensive medicine.
The real issue “How do we lift the quality of medical care and reduce serious medical errors and thus malpractice claims?”
Hidden Epidemic Problem of Massive Proportions
As many as 195,000 Americans may die in hospitals due to medical errors 6thleading cause of death in the US More than the death toll from automobile deaths, AIDS, or breast cancer 1 jumbo jet crash a day
What causes medical errors? • Surgical errors • Improper medications • Mix-up in patient identities • Wrong diagnosis • Delay in Treatment • Object left inside a patient during surgery
Children, in particular, are at risk of losing their lives due to medical errors. An estimated 4,000 children die each year because of medical errors
The public cost of medical errors $17 - $29 billion each year
Barriers to Patient Safety • Understaffing • Poor Monitoring • Repeat Offenders • Doctors rarely admit mistakes • Weak Medical Discipline System • Artificial limitations on compensation for harm
How do we restore patient safety and accountability? • Individual vigilance and advocacy. • Shine sunlight on problems. • Sufficient staffing and adoption of programs to prevent medical errors. • Wake up the disciplinary watchdog. • Protect your right to your day in court. • Let juries, not legislators, decide what injured families should recover.
Medical errors are the elephant in the room that no one wants to acknowledge or talk about
Conclusion • Medical errors harm our citizens • Medical errors are preventable • The public must police the medical profession, if the medical profession won’t police itself • Closing the courthouse doors rewards bad conduct • We need to hold bad medical professionals accountable • Real reform regulates the insurance industry, HMOs and corporations and benefits, doctors, small businesses and individuals