Dying to be Cured: When Healthcare Mistakes become Deadly

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A recent study by researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine says medical errors should rank as the third leading cause of death in the United States. The Hopkins study, based on an analysis of prior studies, estimates that more than 250,000 Americans die each year from medical errors which can include death from surgical complications, prescription medication mistakes and infections.

The Hopkins researchers argue that the CDC should include medical errors as the cause of death in their published mortality statistics not the “underlying cause of death” and by doing so the public and professionals would become more aware and concerned about death by medical error. If this were the case, on the CDC’s official list, death related to medical errors would rank third just behind heart disease and cancer.

This number is staggering and to put it into context it would be equivalent to 417 Boeing 747 airlines crashing per year or nearly two per day. If this was happening in the skies, we would all demand that the FAA do something to prevent it and the same should be the case with the CDC.

Dr. Alejandro Badia and Justin Irizarry believe that another opportunity for reducing deaths related to hospital medical errors is the redirection of patients reporting to an emergency room to an urgent care center. They believed in it so much, that they Co-Founded OrthoNOW®, the nation’s only orthopedic urgent care center franchise. Irizarry, a Wharton Fellow and financial industry experts says “According to the Urgent Care Association of America, UCAOA, 98% of patients seeking treatment at their local emergency room should be treated at an urgent care center. The growth of specialized urgent care, such as OrthoNOW, will deliver healthcare’squadruple aim; better outcomes, lower costs, improved patient experience and improved clinician experience.

Dr. Badia states “Aside from the time and cost savings associated with this maneuver, urgent care franchises do not accept trauma patients nor do they experience the same volume as an ER. Patients presenting to major emergency rooms are also exposed to nosocomial (hospital related) bacterial infections due to the environment present amidst long waits”. Badia continues “Specialized, non-hospital care environments are healthier, and more efficient, for a patient seeking orthopedic acute care. Combined these facts allow urgent care medical staff extra time with a patient to discuss history and possible underlying conditions in a reduced stress environment. This minimizes both the risks of infection and the likelihood of prescription medication errors which contribute to the death rates as denoted by the Hopkins Study”.

The Hopkins Study casts a light on a significant health care delivery method weakness that will not doubt feed conversation and thought in the months to come. During this time of transformational change in the industry disruptive delivery solutions and entrepreneurial innovations like OrthoNOW are viable alternatives to hospitalization and can lower the accidental death count.

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