Little Rock, AR (Law Firm Newswire) February 18, 2014 — The last thing people want to hear about before going to hospital is that the estimated number of patients that die every year as a result of hospital errors is too low.
“Hospital errors take the lives of tens of thousands of people in the U.S. each and every year,” states Arkansas hospital error lawyer, Michael Smith. “Most people, if asked what they think the leading causes of death are in the nation, cite hearts attacks, brain injury and car crashes. Few think to mention medical malpractice or medical negligence.”
A leading study, released in December 2013 by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), outlines that at least 98,000 people die every year as a result of medical errors made in a hospital; errors that were identified as being preventable and racked up at least $29 billion in costs. “That is worth repeating,” indicates Smith, “as $29 billion in costs to deal with preventable mistakes is absolutely horrific. It’s no wonder our health care system is in the financial shambles it is in.” In referencing information on death statistics complied by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention one would find out that medical negligence is the sixth leading cause of death every year.
There are a number of studies on this particularly morbid issue, and another one, by the Congressional Budget Office reveals that in 2003 there were at least 181,000 cases of severe injuries, including death, due to medical malpractice. “The Institute for Healthcare Improvement says there may even be 15 million hospital errors made each year, many of which may end in death. While the numbers of deaths may be disputed, what the figures are saying is frightening. The figures show that the problem of death by medical mistake is way larger than anyone realizes,” says Smith.
Disturbingly, while the public may just be coming aware of how high the numbers are, the medical establishment has known this for years. Has the problem been addressed? “No. And an even more recent study, conducted by researchers at the Harvard University, reveals that just about 18 percent of patients that get admitted to a hospital end up being a medical malpractice victim,” Smith adds.
In the meantime, the back-story continues with discussions about tort reform, an effort that severely compromises the justice system and medical negligence victims by penalizing them twice for something that was not their fault. The bottom line is that medical malpractice drives up insurance rates, not injured or dead patient lawsuits.
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