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Are you safer on the highway or lying in a hospital bed?
You might be surprised: Nearly 200,000 people die every year in the United States as a result of medical malpractice, while only about 40,000 die in automobile accidents. A comparison of statistics from several sources indicate that medical malpractice—an issue that has hardly made a splash in the healthcare debate—is a major problem.
Earlier this month, HealthGrades, a healthcare quality company that studies the medical industry, looked at 37 million American patient records from 2000 to 2002 and found that an average of 195,000 patients died due to potentially preventable in-hospital medical errors. Half of those errors arose from hospital-acquired infections and the other half from preventable mistakes such as safety issues within the hospitals, failure to diagnose post-operative infections, failure to recognize the degree of injury, and misdiagnoses.
Alternatively, a 2008 study by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration reported that 37,261 people died from car crashes last year, a statistics that is down almost 10 percent from 2007. Comparatively, there is an almost 5 to 1 ratio concerning the number of fatalities caused by medical mistakes vs. automobile accidents.
The HealthGrades numbers are double the number from a 1999 Institute of Medicine study, which, even at that lower number, called medical malpractice an “epidemic” and pegged the cost to the country then at $6 billion.
The Institute of Medicine made several suggestions for increasing patient safety, but they were only spottily and partially instituted. Among those suggestions were mandatory reporting of hospital deaths caused by medical mistakes, the creation of a national patient safety center, and a proposal that hospitals themselves could take further responsibility for patient safety.
Several states now require reporting certain preventable deaths and other non-lethal complications.
If you or a loved one have been a victim of medical malpractice, you are urged to contact the Indianapolis Medical Malpractice Attorneys of Wilson Kehoe Winingham. The lawyers at WKW can help you and your family get the compensation you deserve. Call 317.920.6400 or fill out an online contact form for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.
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