Two recent studies have documented that preventable medical errors continue to cause serious injuries and deaths in our nation’s hospitals. A study recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that from 2002 to 2007 in ten North Carolina hospitals the frequency of incidents causing harm to patients did not go down. The study concludes that the failure to reduce the rate of medical errors is due to the continuing failure to adopt procedures which would prevent such errors. The study also concludes that the rate of injuries and deaths caused by medical mistakes is probably under-reported by the medical profession because such reporting is voluntary.
Another recently released study, which was conducted by the US Department of Health and Human Services, found that in a single month (October 2008) medical errors in hospitals were a factor in causing the deaths of 15,000 patients across the United States. These recent studies confirm the findings of the 1999 study by the Institute of Medicine which showed that medical errors caused in excess of one million injuries and 98,000 deaths per year in this country.
The medical profession continues to make the bogus claim that medical malpractice cases drive up medical costs by forcing doctors to order too many tests and procedures, while the real cost-driver is the quest for profits by doctors and hospitals. At the same time, the medical profession ignores procedures which are proven to reduce medical errors, patient injuries, and deaths. So far, the medical profession has not been able or willing to take the steps necessary to reduce patient injuries and deaths due to medical errors. Without the protection offered by medical malpractice laws, patients would be entirely without recourse against negligent health professionals.