As a result of an ageing population, there is no doubt that the Australian health system is encountering more pressure now than it has in recent years. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, a significant 14.9 per cent of the country were over the age of 65 – up from 13.6 per cent in 2010.
With an older population requiring more health care services, some medical professionals aren't up to standard based on the findings of a University of South Australia (UniSA) study.
Published in the UniSA news room and Medical Journal of Australia, the research revealed that more than a quarter of hospitalisations involving older Australians may have been the result of an incorrect medical diagnosis. Specifically, the wrong medication provided during primary care before they were admitted to hospital.
At a cost of $300 million a year, these errors are not only hurting patients, but also impacting the resources available to the rest of the population.
A number of doctors from the UniSA and the Bupa Health Foundation analysed five years' worth of data from the Department of Veterans' Affairs to see which medications doctors provided to more than 83,000 older Australians before those patients had to visit the hospital. Surprisingly, 25.2 per cent of patients weren't treated for their chronic diseases and this led to further complications when admitted.
Lead researcher Dr Gillian Caughey from the Quality Use of Medicines and Pharmacy Research Centre explained the findings in more detail.
"At least one in 10 hospitalisations for chronic heart failure, ischaemic stroke, asthma, gastrointestinal ulcer or bleeding, fracture, renal failure or nephropathy, hyperglycaemia or hypoglycaemia were preceded by suboptimal medication-related processes of care," she said.
"For example, 19 per cent and 17 per cent of fracture hospitalisations were for older men and women respectively who had a history of osteoporosis, but who had not received medication for it."
Medical professionals have a duty of care and responsibility for treating patients both young and old with the right medicine and treatment. However, mistakes and oversights do occur and this can lead to people suffering further discomfort or medical issues.
If you believe that this has happened to you or another member of your family, there is the possibility of receiving compensation. This compensation can cover economic losses such as loss of superannuation or wages and any past and future care medical costs.
For more information on launching a medical negligence claim, contact one of our legal professionals today.