One in Five Americans Have Experienced a Medical Error

health-2662312_1920-200x300A new study finds that while many Americans have experienced a medical error, many are also able to identify the mistakes when they occur and are ready to inform staff at the hospital about it.

As many as one in five Americans have experienced a medical error. According to a new study conducted by the IHI/NPSF Lucian Leape Institute and NORC at the University Of Chicago, another one in three admitted to being involved in the care of a person who experienced an error.

Most of these errors were diagnostic errors. Approximately 59% of these errors involved an incorrect diagnosis, delayed diagnosis or failure to diagnose. More errors were likely to occur in outpatient settings than during in-patient care. About 6 out 10 adults experienced a misdiagnosis and 4 out of 10 respondents admitted that they were not treated with respect

Interestingly enough, the researchers found that persons who suffered medical errors were also able to identify the factors that caused the failure. At least 50% of persons who experienced an error or identified it, informed staff at the facility about it. This shows that there is increasing awareness about medical errors, and patients are more proactive about identifying factors that cause an error affecting their care. Experiencing a medical or surgical mistake, however, does not seem to increase an individual’s concerns about patient safety. Most of the respondents who participated in the study did not cite patient safety as a significant personal concern for them.

Last year, John’s Hopkins released a patient safety report that analyzed medical error data over a period of eight years. The analysis found that medical errors are now the third leading cause of fatality in the United States and that close to 10% of all American deaths are now directly linked to medical errors. The researchers focused on medical data between 2000 and 2008 and calculated that nationwide, approximately 9.5% of all fatalities are connected to medical errors annually.

According to Johns Hopkins, the leading causes of fatality in the country are heart disease and cancer, both of which kill more people every year than medical errors. However, while the country’s policymakers have recognized the significance of reducing the incidence of cardiac disease or preventing cancer, the same kind of attention is not paid to medical errors. As a result, while cardiac disease and cancer prevention receive plenty of funding, medical error prevention doesn’t receive the same kind of resources and attention. This negligence leaves too many Americans exposed to the risk of possibly severe medical errors every year.

According to Johns Hopkins researchers, many of these errors involve problems like lack of coordination in patient care and lack of accountability in physician practice. This lack of accountability is linked to variations in physician practice. Policymakers must develop protocols that reduce such variability to improve health care quality.

The Indiana medical malpractice attorneys at Montross Miller Muller Mendelson & Kennedy, LLP represent family members of those who have been killed as a result of medical negligence across Indiana. If your loved one has been the victim of a medical error, get in touch with an attorney at our law firm immediately.