Preventable Hospital Mistakes Cause Nearly Half a Million Deaths Each Year

 Posted on February 29, 2016 in Medical Malpractice

medical error, Chicago personal injury lawyer

Most patients check into a hospital expecting to get better. Sadly, this is not always the case; doctors, surgeons, nurses, anesthesiologists, and other healthcare professionals sometimes make critical mistakes that end up doing more harm than good. Even more disturbing is that, according to recent data, the prevalence of these medical errors has increased over the years at an alarming rate.

Medical Mistakes: Then and Now

It was 1999 when the Institute of Medicine (IOM) published their report, “To Err is Human.” A proverbial bombshell for the medical community, the report claimed that as many as 98,000 people died each year from preventable mistakes made by hospital personnel. Many disputed those figures, saying they were largely exaggerated, but it is now one of the most widely used and quoted research documents on medical errors.

A 2010 statement from the Office of Inspector General for Health, which claimed that bad hospital care contributed to the deaths of 180,000 Medicare patients alone in just a short year, hinted that the problem was growing. Then came the recently published Journal of Patient Safety study, which found that the figures have more than doubled since 1999.

Preventable Death Toll of Hospitals Now Nearly Half a Million

The recent report was based on the findings from four recent studies on the prevalence of preventable harm to hospital patients. It used a screening method known as the Global Trigger Tool, which scans through medical records and then flags situations where infection, injury, or error may have occurred. A physician to determine the actual extent and cause of the harm then reviewed those results. In short, it is essentially the most recent and credible information currently available.

The baseline figure approximates that preventable errors cause approximately 210,000 unnecessary deaths each year. The actual number – which is more than doubled to include 440,000 preventable deaths because the trigger tool is unable to detect situations in which treatment should have been provided but was not – is much more disturbing; it essentially suggests that, in the span of one year, hospital personnel kill off enough patients to fill the city of Miami.

Hospitals Need to Take Accountability

It cannot be easy, running a hospital like a well-oiled machine, where the staff communicates and ensures that each patient is treated with the best of care. Especially since hospitals are run by humans who, even on a good day, can make mistakes. But that should never be used as an excuse. Furthermore, patients and their families should not be left to pick up the pieces of their lives alone; instead, hospitals should take responsibility when their staff makes a serious or fatal mistake.

At Tomasik Kotin Kasserman, we understand just how damaging the effects of medical mistakes can be on the lives of victims and their loved ones. Dedicated and experienced in the complexities of medical malpractice cases, we fight hard for justice and ensure the rights of victims are protected. To find out how our Chicago medical malpractice attorneys can assist with your case, call our offices at 312-605-8800 and schedule a free initial consultation today.


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