Medical Malpractice the Nation’s Third-Leading Killer?

When the Institute of Medicine published a report in 1999 that estimated 98,000 people died each year because of medical mistakes, the report was met with skepticism and denials from medical industry professionals. Now, a spokesman from the American Hospital Association indicates the group believes this number is an accurate representation of how many patients die annually due to preventable medical mistakes. The American Hospital Association has embraced the estimate of 98,000 deaths likely because new data indicates that the death rate is actually much higher. medical-doctor-1314902-m

In fact, Scientific America has reported on a new study in the Journal of Patient Safety suggesting that between 210,000 and 440,000 patients suffer preventable harm in hospitals each year that contributes to their death. Medical malpractice lawyers in Phoenix at the Law Offices of Jeffery J. Hernandez know there is plenty of evidence to support the claim of 210,000-440,000 annual patient deaths.

New Study on Preventable Hospital Errors is Cause for Concern

The revised estimates on the number of annual patient deaths from hospital error were derived from methodology developed by a toxicologist at NASA’s space center in Houston who also runs an advocacy group called Patient Safety America.

The estimates are more in line with data from the Office of Inspector General for Health and Human Services, which stated in 2010 that bad hospital care contributed to the death of 180,000 Medicare patients each year. Three prominent safety researchers also reviewed the methodology used to arrive at the new estimates and found the methods and results credible.

The method used to estimate the annual number of deaths involved a review of four recent studies that used a Global Trigger tool to identify preventable harm caused by adverse events in 2013. The Global Trigger tool searches medical records for signs of error, and when the search flags a potential mistake, it is reviewed by a doctor to identify the extent of the harm suffered by the patient. A total of 4,200 records of hospital patients were reviewed, and serious adverse events were identified in 21 percent of the records. In 1.4 percent of the cases, a lethal adverse event occurred.

If true, it would make medical malpractice the nation’s third-leading killer, behind heart disease and cancer.

Protecting Yourself From Hospital Errors

With so many dying due to medical mistakes in hospitals each year, it is important that you plan ahead if you have a scheduled procedure in a hospital, such as a surgery. You may also wish to research hospitals and alert friends and relatives as to which hospital you prefer to be treated at if you fall ill, although you usually will be taken to the closest hospital in a true life or death situation.

When researching hospitals to identify a facility where you have the least chance of error occurring, resources such as Hospital Compare allow you to review patient surveys and information about different facilities in your area. The responsibility lies with every hospital to provide appropriate care to patients, but choosing the right hospital is one of the ways that patients can be proactive in protecting themselves from harm.

Medical malpractice lawyers in Phoenix can help victims of hospital negligence. Contact the Law Offices of Jeffery J. Hernandez at (866) 324-9204 or visit for a free case consultation.


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