The statement is a shock to our national pride, but according to studies,
it's true: medical negligence and preventable error is the third leading
cause of death in the United States. It trails only cancer and heart disease.
According to a study published last year in the Journal of Patient Safety,
medical negligence kills at least 210,000 Americans per year. That's
the minimum number of fatalities by preventable harm in hospitals. At
the other end of the spectrum, researchers said, up to 400,000 patients
might be killed annually by
Researchers found that preventable "serious harm" is done to
hospital patients with incredible frequency: 10 to 20 times as often as
"lethal harm." That means at least 2.1 million patients suffer
serious, preventable harm each year in U.S. hospitals, but that the number
of victims could be as high as 8 million.
While we will likely never know the exact numbers of people harmed and
killed by misdiagnosis, medication errors, birth injuries, wrong-site
surgeries and other mistakes by doctors and nurses, we are fortunate that
detailed analyses give us a glimpse of the scope of the problem.
Some of the reasons cited in the study for health care provider failures:
hospital staffing issues; bottom-line-focused hospitals; ongoing difficulties
among hospital personnel regarding shift changes; and too-slow implementation
of electronic medical data-sharing technology.
In their conclusions, the researchers included their argument that whether
one takes their low estimate as valid or their low estimate, the results
should be the same: "an outcry for overdue changes and increased
vigilance in medical care to address the problem of harm to patients who
come to a hospital seeking only to be healed."
Those harmed by Joplin health care provider negligence should speak as
soon as possible with a medical malpractice attorney.
Source: Journal of Patient Safety,
"A New, Evidence-based Estimate of Patient Harms Associated with Hospital
Care," accessed Oct. 8, 2014