Patient Safety in Hospitals

 As lawyers for people who have been injured through the negligence of others, we  hear very often  from people who got infections during a stay at a hospital.  These infections can be very dangerous, especially for the very young, the very old, and  people with immunity problems.  


Find Out About Your Hospital’s Infection Control 

Consumer Reports has reported on new rules to make it easier for patients to identify which hospitals are better at preventing infections.  Their article is at their health and safety blog. Consumer Reports had earlier reported on an investigation that revealed that nearly all these infections are preventable, including central IV line infections, which account for about 30% of the 99,000 annual deaths from hospital-acquired infections.  Under the new rules, hospitals will have to report their infection rates.  Here’s a link to the site, Hospital Compare, that has the reports on infections.   The report shows one hospital in Georgia that reported no central line infections. It would be great if all the hospitals in Macon and Middle Georgia could achieve this same result. 

Patients Need to Know 

Most of these infections, if not all of them, can be prevented with the use of a simple checklist, called the Pronovost checklist, found here.  This checklist focuses on simple measures, like hand-washing and use of disinfectants, to prevent infections.  I would urge everyone to make sure that their caregivers are following these simple steps so they can protect themselves and their loved ones from these infections in hospitals.   Please watch the video above for information on preventing infections.  

Truck Wreck on I-75

I have not been posting new entries for several months.   The summer months flew by, but I had a great time with my family, and even got to enjoy an oil-free trip to the Gulf Coast.  

I plan to keep the blog more current from now on.  The blog is devoted to safety issues and trial advocacy.  These two topics are tied together because I see what I do as a trial lawyer as furthering the goal of making all of us a little more safe.  Our court system should be used to hold wrongdoers responsible and to make everyone act in a more responsible and safe way.

Safety was definitely on my mind last week as I purchased a new vehicle.  My overriding concern was to buy a vehicle that would protect my family if we were in a severe collision.  Since we live near I-75, a major highway,  with plenty of large truck traffic, I wanted a vehicle that would protect us if we were in a wreck at highway speeds. 

Unfortunately, this weekend I read of another serious wreck involving a large truck on I-75 in Dooly County.  You can read about the wreck in the article by Linda Morris in the Macon Telegraph.   Please use this link to read about safety ratings of vehicles by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.  You can read excellent articles about truck safety, and other topics on safety at the website for the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety

Lawsuits or Medical Errors: What’s The Real Problem

Medical Malpractice Payments Fall       Many special interests want to close the courthouse doors to Georgia citizens who suffer terrible injuries or death because of the negligence of healthcare personnel.  The special interests complain about "frivolous lawsuits" and the alleged "crisis" of medical malpractice lawsuits.  When you peek behind the surface, however, the truth is that we are suffering from a problem with people being killed or injured by medical errors rather than a problem with lawsuits.  For example, as this article by Chelsey Ledue shows, the number of payments related to malpractice claims fell in 2009, and the amount paid is at its lowest level since 1992.

The Real Problem:  Failure to Protect Patients    In 1999, the Institute of Medicine found that 44,000-98,000 people die every year due to preventable medical errors!  In 2004, the problem was worse, and according to the report by Health Grades, medical errors would be ranked as the 6th leading cause of death in the United States.   And in 2009, it is estimated by the Hearst Newspapers that approximately 200,000 people would die due to medical errors and hospital infections!  These are frightening statistics that don’t  get the attention they deserve.  

    Please take a moment to review the report by Public Citizen that shows the real problem is too many Americans die needlessly from medical errors.  Thus, we should focus on keeping patients safe and holding hospitals and medical personnel accountable when they needlessly harm patients.  The right to trial by jury is essential to hold wrongdoers accountable.  We should not allow special interests groups to take away this right.   

The Sudden Acceleration Problem, and How to Protect Yourself From It

What is Causing the "Sudden Acceleration" problem?

     The initial reports about the Toyota sudden acceleration problem focused on gas pedals and floor mats.  Now, in response to concerns that these "fixes" do not fix the problem, Congress is continuing to investigate.  According to an article by Joseph B. White and Kate Linebaugh in the Wall Street Journal, Toyota officials are continuing to investigate the cause of the problem.  So the short answer is that no one really seems to know the precise cause of the problem.  Even Toyota officials say they are continuing to investigate the problem.

What To Do If Your Vehicle Suddenly Accelerates

    So while the cause of this problem is being investigated, what should you do if you find yourself in a situation where your vehicle suddenly accelerates?  Generally, the advice is to put the car in neutral, put on the brakes, and turn off the engine.  A more detailed explanation can be found at the Consumer Reports blog on how to protect yourself in this situation.  A video of how to react can be found on YouTube as well.   Please take a moment to review these and practice reacting to a sudden acceleration in your vehicle.