The Los Angeles Times reported this week on troubling medical research news which indicates the current total of reported medical errors may be much lower than the actual errors committed.
As is often reported, a well-known 1999 study by the Institute of Medicine indicated that tens of thousands of deaths are caused each year by hospitals mistakes. The financial cost of those errors total tens of billions of dollars. Evidence since then suggests that the total number of errors is not decreasing. In fact, a research team recently published a report in the journal Health Affairs which explained how errors may be ten times greater than thought.
The main problem stems from that fact that medical mistake reporting usually is quantified as a total number of “adverse events” instead of by the patients underlying condition. In other words, many hospital mistakes are never reported because they do not qualify as a clear-cut “adverse event” where a bad medical action caused a specific injury. Many errors, however, do not cause a specific injury but instead lead to a worsening of condition. Those sorts of mistakes-just as detrimental to the patient-typically fall outside the scope of problems included in these studies.
A new method is being developed to better account for all poor medical decisions. Known as the “Global Tiger Tool” the system has found 10 times as many errors as the older method. Researchers explain the take-away from the new data, noting that the “study suggests that despite sizeable investments and aggressive promotional efforts by local hospitals, these reporting systems fail to detect most adverse events.”
Our Chicago medical malpractice lawyers at Levin & Perconti believe in the importance of open and accurate medical safety information. It is important for medical consumers-which will include all of us at one time or another-to have the best information available when making critical choices of life and death. If you or someone you know has ever suffered because of a possible medical error, please consult our Illinois injury lawyers to learn more about your legal rights.
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