On July 17, a number of health care specialists and administrators expressed the need for a widespread system to track preventable patient injuries and deaths over time during a Congressional hearing. A system like this would help to protect patients in Ohio and other states across the country, according to the medical experts during the Subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging. The medical professionals also called for the development of a board to govern patient safety.
During the hearing, the experts stated that medical providers are not held as accountable as they should be because the country lacks a system to keep track of different types of illnesses resulting from medical errors, including health conditions resulting from a delay in diagnosis. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention collects data on infections developed in hospitals but does not keep track of statistics on other types of patient illnesses contracted because of medical error. According to the chair of the subcommittee, preventable deaths are the third-leading cause of death in the United States.
The president of the National Patient Safety Foundation claims that adverse patient reactions to drugs occur in around 25 percent of cases. He also stated that medical malpractice suits most often result from missed or delayed diagnoses by medical staff. A recent study by a patient advocate, which was discussed during the subcommittee hearing, estimated that as many as 400,000 preventable deaths occur each year.
Since medical malpractice lawsuits can take a great deal of time and money, patients and their lawyers often use medical records, eyewitness accounts and other evidence to determine if they have a case to take forward. For these types of civil lawsuits, patients must show that doctors or other medical staff made an error that resulted in the worsening of their conditions and adhere to the one-year statute of limitation for medical malpractice actions in Ohio.
Source: Ohio Revised Code § 2305.113
Source: NPR, "Health Safety Experts Call For Public Reporting Of Medical Harms", Marshall Allen, July 18, 2014