New Study Says As Many as 400,000 Patients Die Each Year from Medical Mistakes

A widely reported estimate for the number of people who die in this country due to medical errors tops 98,000 per year. A new research effort now says the number of avoidable patient deaths is actually higher. Much, much higher.

In 1999 the Institute of Medicine, an independent, non-profit organization that provides information and advice on matters of health, released a report titled, “To Err is Human: Building a Safer Health System.” The report included recommendations for helping to reduce mistakes by the nation’s health care providers.

It also said that between 44,000 and 98,000 people die each year in hospitals from errors that were preventable. Staggering numbers to be sure, but a new study estimates that the actual number of patient deaths due to medical mistakes is at least four times higher.

The September 2013 issue of Journal of Patient Safety included an updated look at medical errors. Incorporating several studies published between 2008 and 2011, it arrived at a much higher number of estimated annual patient deaths from medical errors: 210,000 to 400,000 people each year. Serious injuries from preventable mistakes were found to be 10 to 20 times higher than these estimates of patient deaths.

Types of Hospital and Doctor Errors

This new report categorized the type of preventable accidents in hospitals as:

· Errors of commission – the wrong medical treatment or the right treatment performed improperly

· Errors of omission – the correct course of treatment was not given

· Errors of context – the physician not accounting for the patient’s particular circumstances when planning post-hospital care

· Errors of communication with the patient or other providers

· Diagnostic errors – a wrong or delayed diagnosis

These new estimates are alarming. They indicate that the problem of medical mistakes may be more widespread than previously suspected. Which makes consulting attorneys experienced with investigating cases of medical malpractice a critical option for those who have been harmed by health care providers .