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U.S. studies show that thousands die yearly from medical errors

Many are already aware that every year, doctor error contributes to the deaths of patients at Providence hospitals and clinics. Doctor’s, physician assistants, and nurses are human after all, and thus can be relied upon to make mistakes just as they are relied upon to use their skills in correctly diagnosing and treating their patients. Just how many people die in the U.S. every year is, however, a number that’s open for debate.

According to a study done by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) in 1999, 98,000 people die annually in the U.S. due to medical errors. While that number alone is alarming, there are many who say that it’s nowhere near accurate. A recent study by the Journal of Patient Safety instead put that number anywhere between 210,000 and 440,000. The study produced a baseline number of 210,000 deaths, but then also estimated the number of instances that either weren’t reported by doctors or were unclear due to inaccurate medical records.

Whichever statistic one chooses to endorse, proponents of patient safety say that both show the need for more resources to be dedicated toward research into eliminating doctor and hospital staff errors and improving patient outcomes. And while hospital organizations may view these figures as damning and/or only accept the more conservative estimates, improvements made through research will also save them millions annually from decreased expenses as a result of fewer patients requiring re-hospitalization due to provider error.

As studies continue to be done and research undertaken to improve patient safety, it may be comforting for patients to know that they do have opportunities to seek compensation for those deaths and injuries caused by doctor error. Those looking for such compensation may wish to speak with a personal injury attorney to find out what their options are.

Source: Rhode Island Public Radio “How Many Die From Medical Mistakes in U.S. Hospitals?” Sep. 24, 2013

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