Five Things to Know About Medical Malpractice

It's been more than 15 years now since the Institute of Medicine published its widely cited report called "To Err Is Human." The effect of the report has been far-reaching in showing how remarkably common serious medical mistakes are in the U.S.

The ripples from the report have certainly not ceased. In fact, later research has continued to build upon the earlier findings by showing the number of patients in hospitals who suffer harm that plays a role in their deaths is even higher than was once thought.

At Sbrogna, Brunelle & Donius, LLP, our personal injury attorneys have been following this issue for many years. If you or someone in your family has been harmed by a medical mistake, we encourage you to give us a call to arrange a free consultation with an experienced lawyer. Call 508-762-4637 or 888-487-7603. Or, if you prefer, complete the online form.

Here are five things to know about medmal:

1. For Over 15 Years, Researchers Have Tried to Quantify the Problem.

In 1999, the Institute of Medicine estimated the number of deaths each year due to medical errors in hospitals to be as many as 98,000. There have been several follow-up studies since then.

2. Up To 440,000 Patients a Year May Suffer Preventable Harm in Hospitals That Contributes to Death.

In 2010, a report from an agency of the federal government found the number was even higher, with flawed care in hospitals as a contributing cause of approximately 180,000 Medicare patients in one year. That study was done by the Inspector General's office at the Department of Health and Human Services.

In 2013, an article in an academic journal put the number of patients who suffer harm in the hospital that could have been prevented and is a contributing factor in death to be between 210,000 and 444,000 a year. The journal was the Journal of Patient Safety.

3. Medical Errors May Be the Third Most Common Cause of Death in the U.S.

The leading causes of death in the United States are heart disease and cancer. If the estimates about preventable medical errors are accurate, those errors are the third most common cause of death in the U.S.

4. Some Experts Have Called for a Patient Bill of Rights.

Among experts who study the problem of harm in hospitals, the idea is in play of establishing a patient bill of rights. Such a recognition of rights could help make preventing medical errors more of a national priority.

5. Bringing a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Can Help Make the System Work Better

Bringing a medical malpractice claim isn't only about getting compensation for you and your family. These cases often expose systemic errors within hospitals and health systems, so holding medical professionals accountable can force needed change.