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Medical Mistakes Involved in Quarter-Million Deaths

Submitted by jrlaw on Apr 8th, 2008

From 2004 through 2006, 270,491 deaths occurred among U.S. Medicare patients who experienced one or more patient safety incidents while under medical care. The annual Patient Safety in American Hospitals Study found that 238,337 of those deaths were potentially preventable. The overall number of Medicare patients affected by patient safety incidents over the three year span was 1.1 million, or 3 percent. These mistakes cost the Medicare program $8.8 billion.

Interestingly, a lot of people blame lawyers and medical malpractice lawsuits for rising costs of health care in the United States. As this study (and ones like it) clearly demonstrates, preventable medical errors are not only a leading cause of death, but they’re a leading cause of increasing medical bills. Hopefully this study will convince people to look not just at the number of lawsuits filed, but at the merits of those lawsuits. While no amount of money will restore life to someone who is a fatal victim of a medical mistake, a legal settlement may bring some bit of justice to the matter and assure the mistakes aren't repeated in the future.