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Patient safety under spotlight

The Chicago medical malpractice lawyers are relieved to see patient safety issues finally being brought to the forefront. Our readers know that our Chicago injury attorneys have been well-aware of the hazards patients face when they get admitted to the hospital. Now, the government, over obviously strong objections from the hospital industry, has published data about things that can go wrong in hospitals, such as falls, objects left behind during surgeries, bloodstream or urinary infections associated with catheters, incompatible blood infusions, serious bed sores, and many more incidents of medical malpractice.

Published last week, this information is the first hospital-specific patient safety data to be released nationally by Medicare. It is derived from a review of hospital bills submitted for elderly and disabled patients between October 2008 and June 2010. Unfortunately, Chicago did not come out of the patient safety data clean. All of Chicago’s top medical centers are on the list of hospitals with medical safety issues in some way, shape, or form. For example, the University of Chicago Medical Center, the University of Illinois at Chicago Medical Center, and Rush University Medical Center all reported higher-than-average numbers of hospital-acquired bloodstream infections associated with catheters.

President of the Illinois Hospital Association addressed that the information and data provides an opportunity to have a conversation about what hospitals are doing to improve. She cautioned that there is some noise in the data and some hospitals may have had problems accurately reporting their data. The American Hospital Association, not surprisingly, opposed the release of the Medicare report, stating that it is not a reliable reflection of patient safety issues in hospitals. On the other hand, officials say that the government is committed to shining a light on things that go wrong in hospitals, often because of poor communication between medical providers, inadequate follow-up, or other medical malpractice and medical breakdowns in the process of patient care.

Read more about the recently released medical safety data at The Chicago Tribune.