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How Many People Die From Hospital Negligence in the U.S.?

How Many People Die From Hospital Negligence in the U.S.?

It used to be reported that 98,000 patients died in US hospitals every year from a medical mistake. This staggeringly high number was based on a study conducted in 1999, and it is the go-to stat for medical personnel and reporters alike. In 2010, a new number was posited by the Office of Inspector General for Health and Human Services: 180,000 deaths a year due to hospital mistakes. And that was just for people in Medicare.

A recent study was published in the Journal of Patient Safety stating that the actual number of preventable deaths in a hospital is in the range of 210,000 to 440,000 a year. If this number is true, this would make medical mistakes the number three leading cause of death in the United States. Only heart disease and cancer kill more people.

The study was conducted by a NASA toxicologist who also helms an advocacy group, Patient Safety America. Safety researchers have gone over the study to assess how it was conducted, and these researchers found that the study and its results are reliable.

The NASA toxicologist worked off of four other current studies that outlined the number of “adverse events” that occurred in hospitals, looking at 4,200 people who were hospital patients between 2002 and 2008. 21 percent of these cases reported “serious adverse events”, and 1.4 percent reported “lethal adverse events.”

Projecting this number across the 34 million people hospitalized in 2007, this would come out to 210,000 deaths due to medical error. The higher estimate is due to the realization that not all mistakes are reported, and sometimes this is due to the hospital’s peer-review panels. The new statistic has already been accepted by prominent doctors to be accurate, including one Harvard doctor who helped author the 1999 study.

It is important to note, however, that not every error is actually malpractice. Malpractice means a mistake that no reasonably competent medical professional would commit. But it is evident that negligence accounts for a frightening number of fatalities, no matter which of the above statistics is more accurate.

If you or a loved one has been harmed by a doctor or a hospital’s negligence, then contact the Whitley Law Firm. Find out if you have grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit, which can compensate you for your medical bills, pain and suffering, and more. Call a Raleigh personal injury lawyer today!