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How Common Are Medical Errors?

After reading a story about a medical procedure gone wrong, you’d like to think these are isolated incidents that could never happen to you. Most of the time, your doctors and nurses operate with a level of care that is expected of their profession. Unfortunately, just about anyone can become a victim of medical malpractice. A medical error by a negligent doctor could result in life-changing injuries, permanent damage, or even death.

Medical Malpractice Is Extremely Common

According to one study, 1 in 10 patients are victims of hospital errors. Researcher and professor, Charles Vincent called medical mistakes and adverse events a major source of harm to patients and a significant drain on healthcare resources. “Whether they are major events that are traumatic for staff and patients alike,” said Vincent, “or minor events that are frequent but go unnoticed in routine clinical care, together they have massive economic consequences for the provisions of health care to us all.”

In the 1980s, doctors and researchers began to take a harder look medical errors and so-called adverse events. Authors of the Harvard Medical Practice Study defined adverse events as, “injury caused by medical management rather than by the disease process and which is sufficiently serious to lead to prolongation of hospitalization or to temporary or permanent impairment or disability to the patient at the time of discharge, or both.”

The Majority Of Medical Errors Don’t Cause Lasting Harm

Fortunately for innocent patients and their families, the majority of adverse events do not have serious consequences. However, even if little physical harm was done, a mistake can have an impact on how the patient interacts with healthcare professionals in the future. A victim of a medical mistake may be less likely to trust doctors and less likely to seek out medical care for fear that something may go wrong again.

Unfortunately, one of the major problems with medical mistakes is that they go unreported. Doctors and hospitals are afraid to admit when they made a serious error and often deny responsibility when are finally confronted with their mistakes. This also prevents healthcare systems, hospitals, and other doctors from learning from these mistakes.

“Errors are problems that will not go away,” said Vincent. However, “if we are to learn from mistakes then we need to know about as many as possible so that corrective action can be taken. This requires a cultural change and sensitive handling of the individual making the report.”

Medical Negligence Is a Leading Cause Of Death In America

As we reported previously, a study by medical researchers at Johns Hopkins University found that if medical malpractice was properly tracked, it would represent the third leading cause of death in the United States. The researchers attributed medical errors to over 250,000 deaths in 2013 alone.

If you or a loved one has been injured due to a medical error, the Gilman & Bedigian team is fully equipped to handle the complex process of filing a medical malpractice claim. Our staff, including a physician and attorneys with decades of litigation experience, will focus on getting you compensation, so you can focus on healing and moving forward. Please do not hesitate to contact us today for a free consultation.

About the Author

Briggs Bedigian
Briggs Bedigian

H. Briggs Bedigian (“Briggs”) is a founding partner of Gilman & Bedigian, LLC.  Prior to forming Gilman & Bedigian, LLC, Briggs was a partner at Wais, Vogelstein and Bedigian, LLC, where he was the head of the firm’s litigation practice.  Briggs’ legal practice is focused on representing clients involved in medical malpractice and catastrophic personal injury cases. 


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