Eighteen years ago, the Institute of Medicine shocked the nation with a report titled "To Err Is Human." The IOM said medical errors were a bigger problem than the health care industry acknowledged and that as many as 98,000 people died in U.S. hospitals per year because of mistakes by doctors, nurses and hospital staff.
The medical industry and members of Congress vowed to fix the problem. Yet last year, Johns Hopkins patient safety experts calculated that more than 250,000 Americans die each year due to medical error.
Three years ago, a report published in the Journal of Patient Safety stated that the number killed by medical error could even be as high as 400,000 annually.
Clearly, the problem of medical mistakes has not been solved.
In some cases, the errors are relatively minor mistakes that cascade and cause major medical problems that result in death. In other cases, "never" events occur. "Never" events are called that because they should never take place under any circumstances.
The category includes events such as wrong-site surgeries, in which negligent surgical teams have actually performed operations on the wrong limb, lung, side of the brain, etc. Sometimes the surgery has even been performed on the wrong person; and in other situations, the wrong surgical procedure was performed on the patient.
The cost of these mistakes is unsurprisingly astronomical. A 2010 study pegged the bill at $19.5 billion for additional care, prescriptions and services related to recovery from medical errors.
If you or a loved one has been harmed by a negligent doctor or hospital, you can fight for compensation and justice with the help of an attorney experienced in medical malpractice litigation.