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Study Suggests Basic Medical Errors Are Killing 1,000 Patients A Month

It is easy to lose perspective of how common medical errors can be. Reading an article on a botched surgery or how a doctor’s mistake caused a birth injury make it seem like isolated cases. However, taken together hundreds of thousands of people may die every year due to medical errors. 

UK Study Finds 1000 Patients a Month Die from Medical Errors

Researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine analyzed data from patients who died in hospitals under the National Health Service (NHS). According to their research, something went wrong in about 13% of the patient deaths. The number of errors that caused death amounted to almost 12,000 patients a year

Many of the problems were with basic treatment, like monitoring blood pressure or kidney function. Researchers also found medical staff were not doing full assessments early in hospital admission, which could miss important information. 

One of the limitations of the study is that it only analyzed fatal medical errors. It did not account for the hundreds of thousands of patients who could have suffered serious harm or permanent injury as a result of medical negligence. 

The Problem of Medical Errors May Be Even Bigger in the U.S.

The above study was from data gathered in the United Kingdom. Whether the medical care in the U.K. is generally better or worse than in the U.S. depends on a lot of factors. However, it is undeniable that the problem of medical errors in the U.S. is bigger, simply because the population of patients is so much greater. 

A study published in the Journal of Patient Safety found that between 210,000 and 440,000 patients die each year in the United States as a result of preventable errors that occur during hospital care.  A study from Johns Hopkins suggests that medical error is the 3rd leading cause of death in the U.S., after heart disease and cancer.

Using medical death rate data compiled over an 8-year period, Johns Hopkins patient safety experts calculated that more than 250,000 deaths per year are due to medical error. This number is greater than the CDC’s reported 3rd leading cause of death, respiratory disease, which kills about 150,000 people per year.   

Most Common Medical Errors

According to research published in Diagnosis, 3 common errors account for 75% of medical malpractice cases. These “Big Three” include: 

The most common cancer misdiagnosis was lung cancer. The most common vascular event was a stroke. The most common infection in misdiagnosis cases was sepsis

Help After a Medical Error

Patients injured after a medical error may not find much help from the hospital or doctors. Instead, patients can find an advocate in an experienced medical malpractice attorney who will fight for their best interests and not the interests of the insurance company. 

At Gilman & Bedigian, we are committed to helping patients and families who have been injured by medical malpractice to understand their legal rights and help obtain compensation. To speak with a member of our personal injury team, fill out an online case evaluation form or call (800) 529-6162 today. 

About the Author

Briggs BedigianBriggs 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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