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Medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States, according to a recent study (recent blog post about this topic). The researchers indicated that most medical errors represent systemic problems, including poorly coordinated care, fragmented insurance networks, the absence or underuse of safety nets, and other protocols, in addition to unwarranted variation in physician practice patterns. Patient misidentification can also be a contributing factor. When patients have the same or similar names, mix-ups in their medical care, procedures, and medication have occurred. Such a mix-up could lead to misdiagnosis, mistreatment, and unsafe outcomes.

Patients’ electronic health records are maintained in doctors’ offices, hospitals, and urgent care facilities, and it can be difficult to exchange protected health care information among providers. Creating a reliable patient identification system could improve medical care and prevent patient care mix-ups. To that end, New Jersey plans to implement a statewide database designed to improve patient care, reduce medical errors, and ensure that healthcare records are accessible to all of an individual’s healthcare providers. This effort strives to connect physicians, hospitals, pharmacists, and other healthcare providers with better access to patient data. The system, which will also link to public health databases, will help avoid a situation where two patients with the same name and identifying characteristics are confused by providers.

Continue Reading NJ Is Creating A “Master Person Index” to Counter Medical Errors

Some hospitals in New Jersey are doing a good job at health and safety—but many are still struggling to create a safe environment for patients. The November release of the Leapfrog Group’s “hospital report card” shows New Jersey tied with Texas at #17 in rankings for public health and safety.

Even though 25% of the New Jersey hospitals scored an “A” grade, the bad news for New Jersey is that 47% of the 68 hospitals reviewed received a grade of “C” or below. Additionally only three of the five hospitals that previously delivered straight “A” marks in the report were able to maintain their “perfect” health and safety status. These are Englewood Hospital and Medical Center, Saint Barnabas Medical Center, and Jersey City Medical Center.

Continue Reading Are New Jersey Hospitals Safe?

As recently reported by the Associated Press and local news outlets, Shore Medical Center in Somers Point, NJ is advising patients who received intravenous morphine or hydromorphone medications at the hospital between June 1, 2013 and September 17, 2014, to get tested for HIV and Hepatitis B and C. According to the hospital, an ex-employee pharmacist tampered with the drugs and, in the process, may have exposed patients to the pharmacist’s own blood.

If you were treated at Shore Medical Center during the relevant time frame, we strongly encourage you to get tested. The hospital is providing free testing for patients who may have been exposed.

The medical malpractice attorneys at Stark & Stark are currently investigating claims related to this exposure. If you, a family member, or a loved one believes you may have been exposed, contact Stark & Stark to speak with one of our medical malpractice attorneys.

Visit the Associated Press for more information about the exposure.