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Medical Errors in the United States - The Issue We Don't Discuss Enough

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Despite popular belief, medical errors are more common than you think. Each year medical errors account for over 250,000 deaths, making them the third leading cause of death in the United States. You may not hear about these errors since they rarely make the news, but it’s essential to understand the statistics behind medical errors as they may save your life.

What Is a Medical Error?

A medical error happens when a patient receives substandard medical care, which may lead to prolonged injury or death. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), it’s estimated that 1 out of every 10 patients are harmed while receiving medical care, and 50% of those adverse events were preventable.

The most common types of reported medical errors are:

● Misdiagnosis

● Delayed diagnosis

● Infection

● Prescription error

Although the FDA documents over 100,000 reports of medical errors each year, many other cases go undetected. A study done at the University of Chicago found that 56% of patients who did not report mistakes felt like reporting would not help their case. On top of that, the same study showed that only 45% of the patient’s errors were reported at the hospital. So why are so many reports going unknown?

Reporting Issues

A huge part of why medical errors go unreported is due to underreporting by the health care team. Doctors and nurses are often reluctant to admit that they have made an error or to speak out about an error made by another health care provider. This is often referred to informally as the “white wall of silence.” Another problem is that some health care systems fail to implement appropriate patient safety and quality programs. Hospitals and Nursing Homes are required to create and maintain patient safety and quality programs to investigate bad patient outcomes and determine whether errors were made and whether improvements are needed to prevent future harm.

However, a poorly designed patient safety and quality program may fail to properly identify and investigate adverse outcomes and discover whether errors occurred, which in turn results in underreporting of errors. Additionally, health care systems often fail to identify medical errors in places like outpatient surgery, nursing facilities, or physicians’ offices because they lack the infrastructure and resources of major hospitals.

How We Can Improve

Unfortunately, although precautions have been taken, medical errors may still happen. However, you can always do your part by reporting any errors you notice after a medical procedure. Although many people feel as if reporting won’t do much, it does bring more awareness of how common these errors can be.

If any form of negligence has impacted you or a loved one, you may be entitled to a medical malpractice claim. At Daniel, Holoman & Associates LLP, we are dedicated to helping those who have been injured by a trusted professional. You should not have to go through this difficult, complex process alone—let the professionals take care of you.

Contact the Daniel, Holoman & Associates LLP at (866) 380-2281 or fill out this form on our website for a free consultation}.

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