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New Study Sheds More Light on the National Epidemic of Medical Errors

By: Anapol Weiss

Medical errors in health care facilities may now be the third-leading cause of death in the U.S., according to a study published in the British Medical Journal in May 2016. These instances of medical negligence claim the lives of 251,000 patients in the U.S. every year, equating to nearly 700 deaths each day and about 9.5 percent of all annual deaths, The Washington Post notes.

The country was initially alerted to the topic of preventable medical errors in 1999 when “To Err is Human: Building a Safer Health System” was published by the Institute of Medicine (IOM). That report found that as many as 98,000 people die each year as a result of medical harm. Among the common causes of preventable injury and death named in the report were adverse drug events, surgical mistakes, suicides, restraint-related errors, falls, burns, bed sores and mistaken patient identities.

Unfortunately, limited change has taken place to prevent medical errors during the 17 years since the IOM report was published. To shed more light on this dangerous health care epidemic, the 2016 research involved a more comprehensive analysis of four large studies – including ones by the Health and Human Services Department’s Office of the Inspector General and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. This study’s calculations show a substantially higher number of people who are unnecessarily hurt by medical errors each year.

The researchers indicate that the first step in approaching these errors is to study national patterns, which would require health care facilities to provide complete and accurate error reports. However, reporting requirements by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other agencies would have to change first to increase the scarce discourse presently seen on a national level.

We at Anapol Weiss believe that health care providers must take responsibility for negligent actions that result in patient death or injury. For decades, our Pennsylvania and New Jersey medical malpractice lawyers have been successfully advocating on behalf of patients injured and the families of those killed by medical negligence. Contact our firm for assistance if it happened to you or a loved one.