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Jeff Rasansky
Jeff Rasansky
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Patient Safety Errors Kill More Than 238,000

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The deaths of 238,337 U.S. Medicare patients from 2004 through 2006 could have potentially been prevented if not for patient safety errors. The total number of deaths among patients who had been vicitm to one or more patient safety incidents was 270,491. As if the human life cost wasn’t enough, these errors cost the Medicare program $8.8 billion.

The information was released today as part of the annual Patient Safety in American Hospitals Study. Typical medical errors included bed sores, failure to rescue, and post-operative respiratory failure. Other interesting statistics found include:

- The overall medical error rate was 3 percent for Medicare patients, or 1.1 million patient safety incidents in the three year span.

- Of those patient who were victim to a patient safety incident, 20 percent died as a result of the incident.

- Though the overall death rate of patients who died as a result of patient safety incidents fell, post-operative respiratory failure, pulmonary embolism, spsis, and abdominal wound separation and splitting increased.

The top-ranked hospitals had fewer errors, but were not exempt from problems. That said, if at a minimum all hospital performed at the level of those in the top rankings, records found that more than 220,000 patient safety incidents could have been avoided, 37,214 death prevented, and $2 billion saved.

Those all may just seem like numbers, but these are people’s lives. Perhaps more frightening is the fact that the media headlines focus more on the monetary cost – not the number of lives taken as a result of medical error.

If you or someone you know has been the victim of medical mistakes, contact a medical malpractice attorney to discuss your rights.