Medicare Patients and Medical Errors

While medical errors remain a persistent problem generally, the instances of medical errors involving Medicare patients is simply alarming. The Office of the Inspector General of the Health and Human Services has reported that only 1 in 7 medical errors are actually reported. Additionally, HHS found that 130,000 Medicare patients experience an “adverse event” in a hospital setting each month.
Now, some will argue that the under reporting stems from medical professionals’ fear of medical malpractice lawsuits, a recent NY Times article exposed this as untrue. Daniel R. Levinson, Inspector General of the Health and Human Services Department concluded that medical errors concerning Medicare patients results far more often from a)lack of understanding of what constitutes patient harm, b)these harmful events should be reported, and c)assuming others will report the issue.
In other words, the lack of reporting is an issue of education and complacency. All medical personnel should be taught about the effects of medical errors, especially for the Medicare population. Secondly, these same healthcare workers must be shaken from their complacency in treating an “adverse event” as “no big deal”. Patient safety and concern for a fellow human being must be paramount. It’s apparent from these findings that that is not the case.

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