According to a recent report from the AARP, the risk of death in American hospitals from preventable medical errors and/or medical malpractice has not significantly declined despite increased awareness. In fact, recent studies indicate that the problem is growing. A Health and Human Services Department report issued in January 2012 found that 1 out of 7 Medicare hospital patients died or suffered serious injury due to their hospital care, and nearly half of these deaths were determined to be preventable. In a recent study in Health Affairs, patient charts from three of the country’s leading hospitals were reviewed. Researchers found that in one-third of all admissions in those hospitals, patients suffered some type of harm.
The number of annual deaths from preventable hospital errors and/or medical malpractice is staggering. Indeed, the number of deaths from prevental hospital errors is the equivalent of four jumbo jets crashing each and every week–and that may be an underestimate. One study released in January 2012 found that 86% of harm done to patients was not reported by hospital staff.
Source: AARP Newsletter, “The Worst Place to be if You’re Sick,” Katharine Greider, March 2012.