New study: Medical injuries are disturbingly common among older patients

Even professionals sometimes make mistakes. But mistakes have consequences, and when a healthcare provider slips up, lives can be in the balance. Doctors and other healthcare professionals have a duty to maintain an acceptable standard of care. When this duty is breached and a patient is harmed as a result, the care provider can be held financially accountable by the victim or the victim's family in a medical negligence lawsuit.

Medical injuries are surprisingly common. Older patients, who typically rely more heavily on the healthcare system, are particularly vulnerable to medical errors. According to a new study, nearly one in five older patients is actually injured by medical care.

Almost 20 percent of older patients found to have experienced a medical injury

For the new study, researchers combed through data concerning more than 12,500 patients with an average age of 76. Published by the medical journal Injury Prevention on May 27, the study results indicated that 19 percent of the patients had experienced an adverse medical event caused by medical care or medical management.

These were not just hospital errors. In fact, 62 percent of the medical injuries suffered by patients in the study occurred in the court of outpatient care.

The study revealed that the true rate of adverse medical events is far higher than had been previously estimated. Prior literature cited by the study put the rate at about 13.5 percent for hospitalized patients.

The types of errors that led to patient injury included medication errors, failure to take into account allergies and providing unnecessary procedures. Certain demographic factors put patients at higher risk of experiencing an adverse medical event. Men, patients from lower-income backgrounds and those with a chronic medical condition or disability were more likely to suffer a medical injury. In addition, older patients were more likely to be harmed by an adverse medical event: for every additional month of age, patients' risk of medical injury increased by one percent.

Get compensation from negligent healthcare providers with help from a medical malpractice lawyer

A medical injury can be a very serious matter. In the study, patients who were harmed by a medical injury had a death rate nearly double that of patients who had not been harmed by healthcare providers. Even when patients eventually recovered from a medical injury, greater use of medical services and higher healthcare costs lasted an average of more than a year following an adverse medical event.

If you suffered a medical injury, or if you lost a loved one to a medical injury, you have a right to be compensated for the harm caused by healthcare providers. A medical injury is not just bad luck; it is a preventable tragedy for which responsible parties should be held accountable. Talk to a medical malpractice lawyer today if your life has been impacted by a medical injury, and ensure you get the full, fair compensation you deserve.