are the result of team work and communication errors, diagnostic errors, manufacturing errors, or errors resulting from equipment failures. Errors in health care organizations frequently include medication errors, falls, healthcare acquired infections, and procedural errors. Conceivably these types of errors could be traced to a mistake made by one medical provider, but a deeper dive into the root cause will almost always identify one or more system breakdowns actually at the crux of the error. The Costs of Medical Errors The costs of medical errors are substantial, including costs sustained by health care organizations, insurance companies, consumers, and taxpayers. Stoyanova, et. al (2012) reported that superfluous health care costs arising from preventable medical errors exceeded $3.5 billion
MEDICAL ERRORS 4 dollars in the United States in 2006. Alarmingly, this study estimated the 2008 costs to the United States economy, attributed to “additional medical services” because of medical errors exceeded $19.5 billion (Stoyanova, 2012, p. 60). This represented 0.1357% of the GDP and a substantial incremental increase for the two -ear period studied. Additional costs such as pain and suffering were not included in these statistics, given the difficulty in quantifying these costs. Another study reported the annual costs of medical errors were $17.1 billion dollars in 2008, which is likely higher in present-day medicine (Van Den Bos, Rustagi, Gray, Halford, & Ziemkiwicz, 2011). Moreover, this study reported pressure ulcers and postoperative infections were the most common types of medical errors encountered. The average cost per pressure ulcer was $8,730 and $13,312 per postoperative infection. The total annual costs in the United States were $3.2 million and $3.3 million dollars respectively (Van Den Bos, et. al, 2011). This study further discussed “never events,” events deemed by CMS as always representative of medical negligence. Specifically, this list includes pressure ulcers, catheter-associated urinary tract infections, retained foreign objects, incompatible blood transfusions, air embolisms, and wrong- site surgeries. The costs of these errors ranged from $5,911 per injury (incompatible transfusion) to $26,100 per occurrence of air embolisms (Van Den Bos, et. al, 2001). Clearly, these are just two of the innumerable studies reflecting the costs of medical errors, but provide strong illustration of the economic impacts of medical errors in the United States. Given these astronomical costs, health care organization must allocate sufficient resources to the prevention of medical errors. Achieving a reduction of medical errors through adequate and continual education of physicians and staff is essential. Moreover, quality and risk management departments must be adequate and proportional to the size and scope of the organization. Quality and risk management serve to trend adverse events, prevent future errors
MEDICAL ERRORS 5 through thorough root cause analyses, and identify near misses and recommend changes to avoid future errors.
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- medical errors, medical error, Medical malpractice, Costs of Medical Errors