The longer people live, the more likely it is that they will be taking medications to treat their health conditions or chronic conditions. Unfortunately, older patients who are taking multiple medications are often more prone to suffering injuries as a result of medical errors. In fact, one in five elderly patients in this nation is injured by medical care, according to a study published in the May 27th edition of the journal Injury Prevention.
When elderly people are being treated for their conditions, sometimes medical injuries occur. For example, they may be given the wrong medication, receive treatment that leads to more complications, or have an allergic reaction to a medication. Lead researcher Mary Carter, director of the Gerontology Program at Towson University in Maryland, said, “These injuries are caused by the medical care or management rather than any underlying disease.”
The study looked at 12,500 Medicare patients who made claims between 1998 and 2005, with the average age of injured patients being 76. The outcome of this study indicates that elderly Medicare patients are often victims of medical injuries that aren’t related to their underlying health conditions or diseases. Additionally, the study’s findings included the following:
- Two-thirds (62 percent) of the medical injuries in Medicare patients occurred during outpatient care (outside of hospitals).
- 19 percent of Medicare patients experienced at least one adverse medical event (higher than estimates from previous research).
- Disabled people, men, and those who had chronic medical conditions had a higher risk of suffering a medical injury.
- Those with a chronic condition had a 27 percent higher chance of experiencing an adverse medical event.
- The death rate was double for patients who suffered a medical injury as opposed to those who never had one.
While doctors and pharmacists are supposed to help people and aid in treating health conditions, medical care actually leads to quite a bit of medical harm. When injuries occur as a result of wrong medications, a reaction to a medication, or due to adverse effects of treatment, people can suffer medical injuries as a result of the medical care they received.
Because of these findings, the medical field needs to continually asses their processes in order to reduce the amount of medical and medication errors. Unfortunately, sometimes errors occur that causes innocent patients serious harm. When this happens, we encourage those harmed to seek legal counsel or at least get a free copy of our book, How to Make Pharmacies Pay for Injuries Caused by Medication Errors.