Are Patients Being Misled About the Safety of Hospitals?

Three surgeons at work operating in surgical theatre

An article published by the Wall Street Journal has questioned the integrity of the Joint Commission’s accreditation system. According to the article, the Joint Commission rarely revokes its seal of approval for hospitals who are not in compliance with federal safety rules. The Joint Commission is a nonprofit organization that accredits an estimated 80 percent of US hospitals. Hospitals even use Joint Commission accreditation as a marketing tactic to attract patients.

The Wall Street Journal obtained reports from federal and state inspections that took place between 2014 and 2016. These were inspections carried out by state regulators or the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

According to the data, 350 hospitals were in violation of CMS safety standards during 2014. One-third of these 350 hospitals accumulated more violations in 2015 and 2016. Data from the inspection reports shows that 30 hospitals had violations that caused or could have caused death or injury to patients. However, the article points out that the Joint Commission only revoked accreditation for 1 percent of hospitals who were not in compliance with CMS standards.

Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton, Massachusetts was one of the hospitals named in the Wall Street Journal article. In 2013 and 2014, two infants and a pregnant woman died of preventable causes at this hospital. Regulators with CMS threatened to cut off the hospital’s federal funding because of safety violations. The article claims the Joint Commission named this hospital a “top performer.”

The Wall Street Journal’s article discovered alleged conflicts of interest at the Joint Commission. According to the article, twenty of the thirty Joint Commission board members had business relations with the health centers they were accrediting.

Is Patient Safety a Problem in US Hospitals?

In 2016, British Medical Journal (BMJ) published a study claiming that 250,000 patients in US hospitals die each year due to medical mistakes. The American Association for Justice (AAJ) claims this number is closer to 440,000 per year. Medical mistakes can occur in any health care setting, including hospitals.

If you or a loved one were harmed while receiving care, then an attorney can help determine whether medical negligence was the culprit. The Philadelphia medical malpractice lawyers at Eisenberg, Rothweiler, Winkler, Eisenberg & Jeck, P.C., have helped numerous victims of medical negligence seek justice.

It takes a specific mindset, specialized skills and substantial resources. The types of cases we handle are not the average personal injury. They involve severe, permanent injuries to people that radically affect their lives forever, or in some instances, even cause their death.