Quality medical care is not equally accessible to all Americans. We know, for example, that good medical care is less available to those who live in rural areas and inner cities. Where you receive your medical care, the quality of care an institution offers, can make a significant difference in patient health outcomes.
According to a recent study by the Leapfrog Group, patients who receive medical care at a low quality hospital have a 50 percent greater chance of dying from a preventable error than those who receive their care at a high-performing facility. The group noted that there are at least 206,000 avoidable deaths per year due to preventable errors.
The Leapfrog Group estimates that about 31 percent of hospitals in the United States qualify as high-performing facilities. These are the facilities that earn an “A” according to the group’s scoring methodology. About one-fourth of hospitals earn a B, whereas 37 percent score a C. The group found that around six percent of hospitals score a D, while one percent fail.
Physicians, of course, are responsible for providing health care according to established standards of care. It isn’t that physicians are duty bound to perfection, but they are obligated to at least abide by these standards for their work to be legally defensible. Physician negligence and hospital negligence are, of course, interrelated. Sometimes, negligent physicians are allowed to continue their work despite incidents which should cause a responsible hospital administration to take steps to remove the physician.
In our next post, we’ll look a bit more at the issue of hospital negligence, and how it relates to medical malpractice litigation.