According to the latest study, medical errors that occur in hospitals and various healthcare settings all across the country are actually much higher than previously estimated. According to the Journal of Patient Safety, medical errors are actually double the previous 2010 estimate.
The latest study on medical errors
The study was conducted by a toxicologist from NASA's Houston Space Center and organizer of Patient Safety America, an online platform that provides information on patient care.
Using what's known as a Global Trigger Tool, the toxicologist examined hospitalization records of approximately 34 million patients nationwide. The data showed that 210,000 to 440,000 fatalities per year were attributed to medical malpractice in healthcare settings today.
This number, recently published in the Journal of Patient Safety, is alarming-given that it's double the estimate from 2010.
Previous medical error statistics
In 2010, the Office of Inspector General for Health and Human Services released a report that deaths from medical errors occurred in roughly 180,000 patients every year. In 1999, this number was even lower. A study released by the Institute of Medicine indicated that roughly 98,000 medical malpractice deaths occur.
A spokesperson from the American Hospital Association indicates that the current numbers are likely closer to the 1999 estimate of 98,000. Safety researchers surveyed by ProPublica, an investigative nonprofit organization, disagreed and indicated that the methods used in the toxicologist's study were more credible.
The toxicologist, however, admitted that his numbers may even be inaccurate and likely much higher simply because the Global Trigger Tool's inability to catch diagnostic errors or instances where treatment wasn't provided but should have been.
It's hard to tell which estimates are the most accurate. True figures may never be known. Many hospitals simply refuse reveal accurate data on medical errors and deaths due to medical malpractice.
However, one fact remains certain: medical errors continue to happen and patient's lives are affected.