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Feds say fewer patients affected by hospital negligence

In 2010, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality began tracking certain conditions acquired in hospitals that adversely affect patients in hospitals across the country, including those here in Oregon. The data was gathered from 2010 through 2014. The results of the study indicate that the number of hospital negligence instances caused by the conditions tracked in the study dropped nearly 17 percent during that time.

According to the data, that translates to the saving of approximately 87,000 lives and somewhere in the neighborhood of $20 billion in medical costs. The numbers are encouraging, but the "hospital-acquired conditions" that were tracked only include certain infections and adverse drug events. The infections that were tracked were those caused by catheters, post-surgical infections and central-lines into the bloodstream, along with pressure ulcers (more commonly referred to as bed sores).

Therefore, other sources of infection were not tabulated. For example, articles have been written regarding numerous infections contracted from the use of duodenoscopes. The only time these infections were captured during the study was when the infection was accompanied by a laceration or puncture during their use.

Though it is good news that fewer patients might have been affected by the conditions covered by the study, thousands of people across the country -- most likely including many here in Oregon -- are still victims of hospital negligence. Those victims retain the right to file medical malpractice claims against the party or parties deemed responsible. If it is established that the care received while in the hospital was subpar, the court may consider an award of damages.

Source: USA Today, "Infections, other health issues caused by hospitals are down, feds say", Jayne O'Donnell, Dec. 1, 2015

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