The search for accurate statistics in the realm of medical errors
On behalf of Weisman, Kennedy & Berris Co., L.P.A. posted in Medical Malpractice on Wednesday, September 25, 2013.
The question has been posed many times before and, given the ever-increasing complexity of medicine, it certainly merits revisiting.
The query is this: How many people in hospitals across the United States, including in Ohio, die each year from medically inflicted error?
Anyone who thinks such a question is trivial might profitably consider an estimate from 1999 — already well more than a decade old — that came as a then-bombshell from the Institute of Medicine. Researchers from that organization stated that as many as 98,000 persons die annually from acts of medical malpractice — failure to diagnose, team miscommunications, misreads on lab reports, medication mistakes and more — while they are being treated in medical facilities.
Once thought high, that number is now widely deemed as being low. Some medical insiders think it does not provide for even a close approximation of the fatalities that actually do occur.
The IOM estimate was augmented in 2010 by a government report revising the estimated annual death toll upward to 180,000, a nearly two-fold jump.
And now it is even higher. A new study concludes that well more than 400,000 persons could be dying each year from medical mistakes. Although that view espousing a sharp spike upward is not universally accepted, a number of medical researchers say that it is likely closer to the mark than the earlier IOM estimate.
One of those medical experts is Lucian Leape, a Harvard doctor who helped write the IOM report. Another is Dr. Marty Makary, a Johns Hopkins Hospital surgeon who writes widely on medical errors and is a strong patient-rights advocate.
Leape, Makary and others say that the IOM estimate lacks validity and should no longer be referenced.
Source: NPR, “How many die from medical mistakes in U.S. hospitals?” Marshall Allen, Sept. 20, 2013