Depending on the source, medical errors are anywhere from the third to the top cause of accidental death in the United States. According to STAT, a medical news platform, mistakes in medical care kill more citizens than any other cause.
In 2021, STAT said that the volume of medical accidents and errors remains substantially underestimated. Rather than the widely accepted figure of 250,000 annual medical error deaths, that figure could be closer to 440,000 per year.
Why such a large discrepancy?
Hospital records generally do not list health care provider (iatrogenic) harm as a cause of death, making medical malpractice seem less of a problem. To arrive at the adjusted figure of 440,000 annual deaths, the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) developed a technique called Global Trigger.
The method searches medical records for subtle indicators of unexpected harm in patients. In 2013, an analysis of Global Trigger uncovered ten times more adverse medical events than revealed through conventional means.
Why do so many medical mistakes happen?
Health care providers are humans and as susceptible to mistakes as everyone else. However, STAT supports the theory that redesigning systems within the medical industry could reduce malpractice. Improvements in organizational structures might make it more difficult for errors to occur.
For example, one hospital brought in a team of system engineers to reduce medication errors. After a thorough review, the engineers recommended a facility-wide system redesign. It worked and succeeded in cutting medication errors by 90%.
If you suffered harm or lost a loved one through medical malpractice, explore your legal options under Indiana law. In addition to allowing you to seek justice and compensation, every medical malpractice claim filed in the U.S. gives lawmakers, scientists and researchers grounds to continue their critical work to minimize harmful medical mistakes.