Medical errors are rising in the U.S. A big reason is that the U.S. healthcare system needs help. And some suggest that the launch of the ACA could make things worse.
The U.S. healthcare system, as some would say, isn’t exactly the greatest. In fact, it doesn’t even rank in the top 5 best countries for medical care in the world. America’s healthcare system is, sadly, overtaxed, inefficient, and fails to provide patient-centered medical care. And, as a result, medical errors often occur.
Some suggest that medical negligence instances are likely to only get worse, given the recent launch of the Affordable Care Act.
The doctor-patient ratio is a big reason behind America’s defunct healthcare system. Whether it’s due to the rising costs of healthcare or the necessity to increase bottom lines, doctors today see many more patients than they did in years past. Present data suggests that the average physician sees over 90 patients per week. And, the more patients a doctor sees, the greater likelihood medical errors will occur.
And, unfortunately, as many more citizens sign up for medical care under the ACA, this ratio may only get worse. To date, approximately eight million individuals have signed up for healthcare via the insurance exchanges.
Expansion of healthcare teams and ACOs
Accountable care organizations, or ACOs as they are referred to, are also a big reason why the U.S. healthcare system lags behind other developed countries. ACOs are essentially large healthcare conglomerates. Many buy up small boutique-style medical practices and combine them all together so they consist of hundreds of healthcare professionals.
Gone are the days when just one doctor was responsible for the care of one patient from beginning to end. Today, with ACOs, a patient is likely to see many different types of physicians and medical experts. Because of the prevalence of ACOs, some experts suggest that the “doctor-patient relationship is becoming diluted.”
And when this happens, conditions, symptoms, and prognoses get lost in translation, and in turn leads to a heightened risk of medical errors. Unfortunately, as more people sign up and receive medical care under ACA, more patients could be at risk.
Will the ACA offer motivation to improve?
The ACA is a double edge sword. It allows so many individuals to receive healthcare once out of reach, but it could also potentially increase the risk of medical negligence instances.
Hopefully, it may provide real motivation for the U.S. healthcare industry to truly change its medical practices, focus more on patient-centered care, and reduce unnecessary and preventable medical malpractice incidents.
Until then, individuals who suffered from injuries they believe to be correlated directly to a negligent act of a doctor, hospital, or other healthcare entity are encouraged to speak with an attorney knowledgeable in handling medical negligence cases. A lawyer can explain the law and potential recourse available.