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Medical Errors and Patient Safety

By: Anapol Weiss

Medical Errors Are the Third Leading Cause of Death in the United States

Injury due to medical malpractice causes an estimated of 250,000 deaths every year. Only heart disease and cancer cause more according to a study from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. The Hopkins study concluded that patient safety is just not a priority at many health care facilities in America.

Patient Injury Due to Medical Errors Are a Common Occurrence

In many states the law requires a hospital, nursing home or rehabilitation facility to provide written notice to the state and the patient when medical care causes injury or death. Such notices are typically called an adverse event letter and are an acknowledgment by the facility that a patient suffered harm due to a medical error.

In Pennsylvania the Patient Safety Authority annual report for 2016 set forth that the Authority received 7,548 serious event reports (a serious event is an adverse event resulting in patient harm). The injury or death of a loved one due to a medical error causes tremendous suffering and loss to the patient and family.

Readily Preventable Medical Errors Are Still a Frequent Occurrence

The Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority recently reported on the number of wrong site surgeries over the past 13 years in Pennsylvania. The Authority indicated in its report that in the academic year 2004-05 (the first-year incidents were reported) there were 57. For the year 2016-2017, the number of wrong site surgeries was even higher at 64.