Experts estimate that 98,000 people die each year from preventable medical mistakes and an additional 99,000 patients die each year from hospital acquired infections. A highly publicized report published a decade ago brought this astounding number to light and challenged healthcare professionals to cut the number in half in the coming years. Now, ten years later, analysts believe the number of medical errors is actually increasing.
Consequently, over that period, as many as 2 million Americans have died needlessly of preventable medical mistakes.
While these numbers are not definitive it is the general consensus among experts that the number of preventable deaths attributable to medical errors approached 200,000 per year in the United States.
A 1999 report entitled “To Err is Human,” addressed the situation and made key recommendations that if employed could reduce the number of medical errors and potentially save thousands of lives each and every year, but very little progress has been made in the way of universal adoption of these recommendations.
Among other suggestions the report called for states to require mandatory medical error reporting. So far only 20 states and the District of Columbia have adopted this policy, but even more concerning is evidence that suggests states with mandatory reporting systems only report a very small percentage of errors.
While there has been some progress made in the way of addressing the issue, these small success stories are vastly over-shadowed by the enormous death toll that can be linked to preventable medical errors.
As we approach a cross-roads that will have a drastic impact on the future of healthcare in this country, we must address this and other underlying issues of the healthcare system.
For additional information and personal accounts of those who have been lost loved ones due to preventable medical errors visit the Dead by Mistake website.