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Medical Malpractice

Preventable Adverse Events: Can We Escape Medical Mistakes?

April 14, 2014 | Michael Barasch

Mistakes happen. When they happen in medical settings, people can die or suffer serious injury. A recent study suggests the number of medical errors in the United States is skyrocketing. 

In 1999, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) broke new ground by publishing a startling report that estimated 98,000 people die per year as a result of preventable medical errors. 

A new study published in the Journal of Patient Safety updated those figures using new technology. Results of the research suggest between 200,000 and 400,000 lives are lost per year due to preventable adverse events. 

Findings of the study include: 

  • At the upper figure, mortality from medical error is fast becoming a leading cause of death in this country, behind heart disease and cancer.
  • Reasons for the jump in deaths from medical error could be due to improved technology that identifies adverse events. There could also be an overall increase in fatal medical errors.
  • Medical errors include those of omission, commission, of communication, context and diagnostic error. 

Undertaken by an independent researcher, the new study utilizes the Global Trigger Tool. In the past, statistics regarding medical error were prepared based on voluntary error reports. Using a trigger tool allows compilation of data through clues that signal an adverse event has taken place. The difference in number between actual and reported adverse events can be striking. 

An original author of the IOM report, Dr. Lucian Leape, supports the study conclusions and methods used to reach those conclusions. 

Already vulnerable, ill or injured patients deserve better care. If injured through medical or medication mistake in New York, talk to an experienced injury lawyer. 


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