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Medical Error Statistics

The Becker Law Firm, LPA

According to a 1999 report by the Institute of Medicine, there are 98,000 fatalities every year in the United States caused by medical errors.  This is the equivalent of six jumbo jet crashes every day.  In fact, preventable medical errors are the sixth largest killer, behind only heart disease, cancer, stroke, chronic lower respiratory disease and accidents.  The total cost of those preventable medical errors is $29 billion.  Taking the wider view of medical harm, the Institute for Healthcare Improvement believes that there are 15 million incidents per year.  The stats are even worse for Medicare patients, who have a 20% chance of dying because of medical harm. 

General Medical Malpractice Statistics

Here are some other serious statistics:

  • 18% of patients are injured each year in hospitals because of preventable injuries (2010)
  • 2,080 “never events” occur each year in hospitals (for example, wrong site surgeries, wrong side surgeries, wrong patient surgeries)
  • 7,000 patients die every year because of illegible handwriting
  • Over 106,000 patients die every year because of adverse drug reactions
  • 400,000 preventable drug-related errors occur in hospitals every year
  • Medical interns who have been awake for over 24 hours double or triple the amount of preventable medical errors
  • 160,000 lab misidentification errors occur each year
  • Medication errors kill more people each year than all of the workplace accidents around the country

Birth Injury Statistics

  • 28,000 birth injuries per year
  • 7 out of every 1,000 babies are born with birth injuries
  • Birth injuries cause 20% of all infant deaths
  • Low birth weight is the leading cause of infant mortality
  • Shoulder dystocia affects up to 15% of pregnancies
  • 1 in 303 children have cerebral palsy

Why Lawsuits Matter

The University of Pennsylvania’s law professor Tom Baker, who studies medical errors and medical malpractice lawsuits, comments that “We have an epidemic of medical malpractice, not of malpractice lawsuits.”

Medical malpractice lawsuits, more often than not, help insurance companies, doctors and other health care providers to understand and focus on existing problems that cause injury and death every day in medical facilities.  Sometimes good changes come out of these lawsuits, and future injuries can be prevented.  Some will blame the lawyers and an overly litigious society, but others will take a hard, deep look at whether similar medical errors are preventable.

Contact Us

If you believe that you or your child was injured by a preventable medical error, contact our medical malpractice lawyers at (440) 252-4399 or tell us more about your story online .  We can help you determine if your health care providers should have acted differently.

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