Experts estimate that close to 100,000 people die in hospitals every year, largely due to preventable errors. These include giving patients wrong medications or doses, mixing up patients for surgery, and failing to prevent the spread of infections.
If the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention included medical errors on its list of leading causes of death in America, medical errors would rank sixth, behind cancer, stroke, and heart disease.
The American Association for Justice compiled statistics on medical errors from a variety of sources including the following:
- Researchers at the Harvard School of Medicine found that about 18 percent of patients in hospitals suffer injury during the course of their care and many of those injuries are life threatening, or even fatal.
- The Office of the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found that one in seven Medicare patients suffer injury during hospital stays and that adverse events during the course of care contribute to the deaths of 180,000 patients every year.
- The Joint Commission Center on Transforming Healthcare reported that as many as 40 wrong site, wrong side, and wrong patient procedures happen every week in the United States.
Despite the perception that medical malpractice lawsuits are rampant, the reality is that many victims never file lawsuits. Of those who do, few are rewarded with big settlements. But taking legal action is the best way to obtain justice and compensation, and motivate healthcare providers to exercise greater caution when treating patients.
Dr. Michael M. Wilson is an attorney and a physician who earned his undergraduate degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his legal and medical degrees from Georgetown University. He has focused in the area of medical malpractice for more than three decades and secured more than $100 million in settlements and verdicts on behalf of clients throughout the country. He is admitted to practice in the District of Columbia and New York as well as the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia and the U.S. Supreme Court. He is listed in America’s Top 100 High Stakes Litigators.