Medical mistakes may be more common than previously thought


New York residents might think that advances in technology should make medical mistakes a thing of the past, but a recent study shows that medical negligence is responsible for a staggering number of illnesses, injuries and deaths in hospitals around the country. A report by the Institute of Medicine completed in 1999 showed that approximately 98,000 people per year died from mistakes attributed to medical malpractice. In 2010, that number rose to 180,000 Medicare patients alone, according to a report by the Office of Inspector General for Health and Human Services.

A brand-new study in the most recent edition of the Journal of Patient Safety gives even more extreme statistics, estimating that anywhere from 210,000 to 440,000 patients each year suffer harm at the hands of hospital staff that results in death. If these facts are substantiated, medical malpractice will effectively become the third leading cause of death in the United States, behind only heart disease and cancer.

However, the American Hospital Association begs to differ with the numbers put forward in the most recent reports, arguing that the number probably still hovers close to the 98,000 estimate found in 1999. In reality, there is likely no way to know for sure exactly how many injuries and deaths that occur in hospitals can be attributed to mistakes by the members of the medical staff though experts hoping for more transparency in health care are pushing for an accurate way to keep track of these types of statistics.

Mistakes made by doctors and other members of a hospital’s medical staff can have hugely detrimental effects on a patient or his or her family if death is a result. A personal injury lawyer who concentrates his or her practice on medical malpractice cases could evaluate the case to see if there is a viable claim against the medical facility involved.

Source: Pro Publica, “How Many Die From Medical Mistakes in U.S. Hospitals?“, Marshall Allen, September 19, 2013

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