Several studies have been conducted to understand the scope of medical mistakes in the U.S. health care industry. Recent research suggests the problem is much larger than previously thought. It suggests that medical mistakes are the third most common cause of death in the country, following heart disease and cancer. According to the research appearing in the Journal of Patient Safety, medical errors cause somewhere between 210,000 and 440,000 deaths every year. That covers situations where a mistake leads to preventable harm contributing to the death of the patient.
For some, receiving a new medical device leads to a vastly improved quality of life. For those who receive defective medical devices, the results can be painful or even fatal. The problems involved with faulty medical devices have long been complicated by the difficulty in identifying which patients received devices that ended up failing. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has released new rules that are intended to make it easier to track defective devices and get in touch with patients who have received potentially dangerous implants.
The increased popularity of cell phones, text messaging and portable electronic gadgets has increased the potential for drivers to become distracted. In response to the rise in distracted driving accidents, automakers and the makers of phones and cell phone applications have offered potential technological solutions to the problem. While additional gadgets and apps may help combat the problem of distracted driving, some safety experts believe that technology will not be enough to stop the increase in distracted driving car accidents.
The National Transportation Safety Board voted unanimously in support of a proposal to lower blood alcohol limits for drunk driving from .08 to .05 last May. The group contended that adoption of a lower standard would save between 500 and 800 lives every year by reducing drunk driving car accidents. Since that proposal, no state has moved to make the recommended change and several prominent safety organizations have failed to endorse the move. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Governors Highway Safety Association and Mothers Against Drunk Driving have declined to endorse the move. Despite the cool response NTSB chair Deborah Hersman indicated that the group is confident that the lower BAC limit will eventually be adopted.
Eleven months after headlines broke all over the nation about a fungal meningitis outbreak caused by contaminated injections, the fallout continues for victims and regulators. The illnesses shined a light on compounding pharmacies and the role they play in the health care industry. The pharmacies exist under a different regulatory scheme than other drug manufacturers. With the company responsible for the infections, the New England Compounding Center, having sickened hundreds of people and killed dozens more, people searched for ways to make sure this never happened again.
The use of personal electronic devices has coincided with an increase in the number of accidents attributed to distracted driving. The connection between texting and car accidents has led to texting bans in 41 states, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association. A recent study conducted in the first state to pass a texting ban, Washington, showed that a larger than expected percentage of drivers are using electronic devices behind the wheel. Of those using such devices, 45 percent were shown to be using them to send or receive text messages.
Sacred Heart Hospital has had its license revoked by the Illinois Department of Public Health. The hospital had been closed since July 1, following an FBI raid. The State determined that the facility was "not fit, willing and able to provide a proper standard of care." The FBI raid concerned questionable billing practices as well as allegations of fraud and a kickback scheme to obtain greater funds from Medicare and Medicaid. Federal officials are also looking into five or more patient deaths potentially stemming from failures by the hospital and doctors employed there to see to the health and safety of patients.
Allstate America recently released its annual report of America's Best Drivers. In that report, it uses car collision data to rank the 200 largest cities in America in terms of safe driving. The drivers in Chicago placed 150th out of 200. The size of the city is clearly an issue, however. Among cities with populations greater than one million, Chicago placed 4th out of 9. According to Allstate's data, Chicago drivers experience an accident once every eight years, with the national average being one accident per decade.