Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.

Deaths due to medical errors higher than thought

Pennsylvania residents may be alarmed to hear that the number of deaths caused by preventable medical errors is likely to be far higher than reported. Many hospitals and medical malpractice attorneys refer to the "To Err Is Human" report from 1999, and published in the Institute of Medicine, that states the number of deaths caused by medical mistakes in hospitals is 98,000 per year. However, some recent studies indicate that that number is actually far higher than presumed.

In 2010, the Office of Inspector General for Health and Human Services stated that the number of deaths to Medicare patients alone caused by poor hospital care was at least 180,000 annually. A more recent study, published in the Journal of Patient Safety, indicates that between 210,000 and 440,000 patients that go to hospitals for medical treatment die as a result of preventable harm. If the numbers from the study are accurate, and they has been reviewed by three prominent patient safety researchers who state that the methods obtaining them are sound, medical errors are the third-leading cause of death in America, surpassed only by heart disease and cancer.

Determining the exact number of avoidable deaths is difficult. An accurate count of the number of people who have died due to avoidable harm has never been made. Additionally, many hospitals and doctors are reluctant to admit to causing injury to a patient, especially if it was possibly fatal.

Individuals who have been harmed as a result of a hospital or doctor's negligence may have legal recourse. A lawyer could explain someone's options and help them pursue compensation for medical bills, lost wages and other expenses.

Source: Pro Publica, "How Many Die From Medical Mistakes in U.S. Hospitals?", Marshall Allen, September 19, 2013

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Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.
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