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Hospital errors could claim as many as 440,000 lives annually

Patients in hospitals in Colorado and around the country may be shocked to read that a new study estimated the number of people who die due to medical mistakes in the U.S. at 440,000 per year. This figure includes missed treatment that should have been provided to patients who suffered malpractice under a hospital's care and preventable medical care mistakes known in medical lingo as "adverse errors."

The number of errors has seemed to rise with every new study. In 1999, a famous report put the number at 98,000. In 2010, it was bumped up to 180,000 patients dying as a result of hospital blunders. The new study placed a lower bound of its estimate at 210,000 and the higher bound at nearly 450,000 patients dying from medical errors every single year.

If the figures are accurate, they would make medical mistakes the third-biggest killer in America behind only heart disease and cancer. The estimates were reportedly developed by a NASA toxicologist who wrote a book about his 19-year-old son, whom he claims he lost due to negligent hospital care.

A spokesperson for the American Hospital Association said that his group felt more confidence in the Institute of Medicine's estimate of 98,000 deaths caused by hospital or surgical blunders. Three well-known patient safety experts were asked to review the new study, however, and reported that they found the NASA toxicologist's methods and findings to be credible.

Those who have been hurt by surgeon malpractice or who have lost a loved one due to a surgery mistake may find the counsel of a malpractice attorney to be useful. The attorney may be able to help after cases of surgical equipment left inside a patient, wrong-site surgery or other surgery mistakes by filing a claim against the negligent facility to potentially secure financial compensation for damages.

Source: Pro Publica, "How Many Die From Medical Mistakes in U.S. Hospitals?", Marshall Allen, September 19, 2013

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