US Deaths from Medical Mistakes in Hospitals

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Human error within the workplace is very common. But we don’t generally associate human error in the workplace with doctors or nurses. Studies from the late 1990’s and early 2000’s have indicated that as many as 98,000 people die each year within our hospitals from medical mistakes within hospitals. But more recently in 2010, the Inspector General for Health & Human Services found that 180,000 deaths in hospital were related to Medicare patients alone, not including the rest of the general public.

The most recent study, from the Journal of Patient Safety says that number in 2014 is considerably higher. They state that anywhere between 210,000 and 440,000 patients each year suffer some form of preventable harm that may lead to their death. This makes medical errors the third leading cause of death in the United States. That would make medical errors only trailing to Heart Disease and Cancer as the leading cause of death in the US.

The American Hospital Association stands by the old study conducted back in the 1990’s which states that only 98,000 deaths a year are related to medical mistakes. Unfortunately, both organizations, the AMA and the Journal of Patient safety are claiming their numbers are more accurate.

But something both sides can agree upon is that the hospitals reporting systems and peer-review’s only capture a small percentage of patient harm or negligence. Dr. Lucian Leape, A Harvard Pediatrician has stated that medicine has become so much more complex in the most recent decades, that it will lead to more complications and mistakes.

Bottom line, we can’t dispute facts. Far too many people are suffering from medical mistakes, error & neglect within our healthcare system as a whole, not just hospitals. More studies like this should continue to help educate the public on the reality of hospital deaths each year, and what causes them.

Paul Perkins
Paul Perkins
Mr. Perkins concentrates his practice in the fields of personal injury and insurance law. In his daily practice, he handles claims involving automobile accidents, slip and fall accidents and wrongful death claims. His insurance practice involves homeowners insurance claims, business insurance claims and automobile damage claims that arise when an insurance company handles the claim improperly.