Preventable Bedsores Cost Billions to U.S. Economy

Representing Orlando, Tampa, Miami and Nearby Areas of Florida

A report entitled “The Economic Measurement of Medical Errors“, published in June 2010, showed that in 2008 avoidable medical errors cost the U.S. Economy $19.5 billion. Avoidable medical errors in that year caused 10 million missed workdays, and more than 2,500 deaths. The National Center of Policy Analysis has reported that as much as 45 cents out of every dollar spent in the U.S. healthcare industry is related to an avoidable medical error.

The most common (and most costly) of these medical errors were pressure ulcers, more commonly known as bedsores. Bedsores alone cost the U.S. economy $3.9 billion in 2008. Medical authorities agree that bedsores are a preventable condition. They occur when unrelieved pressure on one area of the body (usually areas where prominent bones rest against thin skin, such as at the tailbone, elbows, or heels) creates a lack of blood flow to that area of the skin.

When bedsore prevention measures are ignored and a bedsore develops, if detected early it is a relatively easy condition to treat. However, a failure to properly identify and treat bedsores in a timely manner can result in extreme pain, life-threatening infections, and even death. If you or a loved one has developed bedsores as a result of negligence by a hospital or nursing home, contact Colling Gilbert Wright & Carter for a free consultation.

The individual’s right to seek compensatory damages for harm caused by avoidable medical errors serves as a powerful incentive for nursing homes and hospitals to address the procedural failures that are contributing to the growing problem of medical errors in the healthcare industry. However, this right is being threatened by proposed “tort reform” legislation that would cap damages for nursing home neglect or abuse at $250,000. See our blog entry from March 12th, entitled “Safety of Florida Seniors at Risk”, to better understand what a serious risk this poses to seniors’ rights in the Sunshine State.

If the ability of the average citizen to sue for damages when harmed by avoidable medical errors continues to be undermined by big-business sponsored legislation, the checks and balances such lawsuits provide against negligent healthcare practices will disappear. If that happens, the dollar amount leached from our economy each year by these avoidable errors will continue to grow unchecked. The incentive for healthcare providers to correct the negligence that results in such errors will be drastically reduced.

Write your legislator and let them know you are against these attacks on the rights of our state’s senior citizens. Under the proposed laws, if you or a loved one becomes the victim of negligence leading to serious harm in a Florida nursing home, your ability to seek compensation in our state’s civil courts will be almost non-existent. When $20 billion of damages are caused every year by avoidable medical errors, and 2,500 people die each year as a result of those errors, for politicians to call  lawsuits seeking compensation for these damages “frivolous” is an insult to the people of Florida.