Preventable Hospital Errors May Account for 440,000 Deaths Annually

In 1999, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) published a report “To Err is Human,” which shocked the medical community when it reported that some 98,000 deaths a year were caused by preventable hospital errors.

A recent report released by the Journal of Patient Safety makes the 98,000 death toll reported in 1999 seem like a nostalgic look at yesteryear. The study, which was conducted by patient advocacy organization Patient Safety America (PSA), says that as many as 210,000 to 44,000 patients may be dying in hospitals each year due to preventable medical errors.

A spokesman for the American Hospital Association said that his hospital advocacy group believes those numbers are inflated and that the 98,000 toll proffered in the 1999 IOM report is correct. ProPublica, which describes itself as an independent non-profit newsroom, asked three patient safety researchers to look at the new data and those experts said that Patient Safety America’s methods and findings were credible.

If these new numbers are accurate, it makes medical errors the third-leading cause of death in the United States, behind heart disease and cancer.

The author of the PSA study said the findings were based on four recent studies that looked at 4,200 patients who were admitted to hospitals between 2002 and 2008. In all, it was found that some 1.4 percent of patients had died due to adverse affects. He then extrapolated those findings across 34 million hospitalizations in 2007 and came up with 210,000 deaths that may have been caused by preventable medical errors.

He told that it is just the baseline. If you factor in unreported adverse medical events and diagnostic errors, the number could easily double -a mind-boggling 440,000 deaths a year caused by preventable medical errors.

“Way too many people are harmed by unintentional medical error,” one medical safety expert said after reading the report. “And it needs to be corrected.”

Have you been harmed or have you lost a loved one due to a preventable medical error? The medical malpractice attorneys at Farah & Farah in Jacksonville urge you to contact us to discuss your legal options. You may be entitled to compensation for medical bills, hospitalization, pain and suffering, funeral costs, and other damages.