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Medical Malpractice Facts & Figures

Stethoscope and graph represent Medical Malpractice facts and figures

Medical malpractice harms as many as 250,000 people in America every year. The term “medical malpractice” encompasses a variety of errors, including but not limited to, anesthesia errors, emergency room errors, hospital infections, medication errors, surgical errors, cancer misdiagnosis errors, misdiagnosis and wrongful birth.

A landmark study by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) determined that the number of preventable medical errors in hospitals exceeds the number of deaths that can be attributed to such feared threats as motor-vehicle wrecks, breast cancer and AIDS.

The Cost of Medical Errors

In 1999, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) published a report titled “To Err is Human: Building a Safer Health System.” It spawned a Presidential task force to analyze the problem of medical errors and patient safety and make recommendations for improvement. Years later, the IOM report’s findings are widely cited and are still called “startling.”

Among the IOM’s findings was that:

  • Between 44,000 and 98,000 people die in hospitals each year as a result of medical errors that could have been prevented.
  • $17 billion to $29 billion is spent each year because of medical errors, including payments for additional care necessitated by the errors, lost income and household productivity, and disability.
  • More than 7,000 people die each year from medication errors alone, occurring either in or out of the hospital.
  • One in 131 outpatient deaths and one in 854 inpatient deaths is attributable to medication error.
  • Two out of every 100 hospital admissions experience a preventable adverse drug event.

More than 30,000 randomly selected discharges from 51 randomly selected hospitals in New York State in 1984 were used to conduct the Harvard Medical Practice Study, the most extensive study of adverse events the IOM researchers could find. In that study:

  • 3.7 percent of the hospitalizations were adverse events, manifest by prolonged hospitalization or disability at the time of discharge or both.
  • 58 percent of adverse events were attributable to errors (preventable adverse events).
  • 27.6 percent of adverse events were due to negligence.
  • 19 percent of adverse events were caused by drug complications, 14 percent were caused by wound infections and 13 percent were technical complications.
  • 13.6 percent of the adverse events resulted in death and 2.6 percent caused permanently disabling injuries.

The IOM study authors warned that their figures were conservative.

Contact Our Chicago Medical Malpractice Lawyers Today

Many cases of medical error and malpractice go unreported and even unrecognized. Anytime someone dies unexpectedly or is injured while under medical care, their loved ones should investigate. It is important to understand that malpractice cases are expensive to litigate, and the compensation you receive may not cover the cost of the case itself.

Talking with an experienced medical malpractice lawyer can help you determine whether you have the foundations for a strong medical malpractice case against your doctor, hospital, nurse or other medical professional.

The Chicago medical malpractice lawyers of Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C., have extensive experience investigating medical malpractice claims for clients throughout Illinois. Call our toll-free number or use our online form to arrange a free and confidential consultation.