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Scott Kappes
Scott Kappes
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Medical Errors Claim 200,000 Lives Each Year

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Experts estimate that 98,000 people die each year from preventable medical mistakes and an additional 99,000 patients die each year from hospital acquired infections. A highly publicized report published a decade ago brought this astounding number to light and challenged healthcare professionals to cut the number in half in the coming years. Now, ten years later, analysts believe the number of medical errors is actually increasing.

Consequently, over that period, as many as 2 million Americans have died needlessly of preventable medical mistakes.

While these numbers are not definitive it is the general consensus among experts that the number of preventable deaths attributable to medical errors approached 200,000 per year in the United States.

A 1999 report entitled “To Err is Human,” addressed the situation and made key recommendations that if employed could reduce the number of medical errors and potentially save thousands of lives each and every year, but very little progress has been made in the way of universal adoption of these recommendations.

Among other suggestions the report called for states to require mandatory medical error reporting. So far only 20 states and the District of Columbia have adopted this policy, but even more concerning is evidence that suggests states with mandatory reporting systems only report a very small percentage of errors.

While there has been some progress made in the way of addressing the issue, these small success stories are vastly over-shadowed by the enormous death toll that can be linked to preventable medical errors.

As we approach a cross-roads that will have a drastic impact on the future of healthcare in this country, we must address this and other underlying issues of the healthcare system.

For additional information and personal accounts of those who have been lost loved ones due to preventable medical errors visit the Dead by Mistake website.

2 Comments

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  1. Sharon McEachern says:
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    It’s not just the hospitals that are liable should a patient contract hospital MRSA infections. It’s the doctors! Doctors do not wash their hands. The chances are only 50-50 that the doctor treating you in the hospital, even when performing your surgery, has washed his hands. The odds are the same as flipping a coin.

    According to the National Quality Forum, hand-washing compliance rates at hospitals are generally LESS THAN 50 percent. When MRSA kills more people every year in the U.S. than the AIDS virus and is usually contracted in hospitals, it’s a serious problem.

    Hospitals are so desperate to get doctors to wash their hands that they are threatening loss of hospital priviledges and termination and are already using staff “spies” and covert camera surveillance of doctors. (Note: The hospital might have video of a doctor “not” washing his hands). In Houston, some of the hospitals have printed placards that arrive with each patient’s first meal that asks the patients to please ask their doctor if he has washed his hands before examining them! Ethic Soup blog has an excellent article on this problem at:

    http://www.ethicsoup.com/2009/01/dont-kill-me-doctor-wash-your-hands.html

  2. Zebedee Collins says:
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    I’m writing a book about the wrongful death of my only son, and I’m looking wrongful death case to put in my book, can anyone assist me in getting cases to put in my book?