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How Likely Are You to Die from a Medical Error?

According to the American Association for Justice (AAJ), preventable errors are the sixth biggest killer in America. This comes after heart disease, cancer, stroke, chronic lower respiratory disease and unintentional injuries and accidents. Newer studies by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show those number are low and preventable errors could actually rank as the third largest killer.

The Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) seminal study of preventable medical errors estimated as many as 98,000 people die every year at a cost of $29 billion. According to Patient Safety America, a non-profit that educates the public about risks from hospital stays, believes preventable medical harm in hospitals contributes to the death of 440,000 U.S. patients each year.

The AAJ states that despite these numbers, the American public remains unaware of just how pervasive the problem is. Even though one in three Americans say that they or a family member has experienced a medical error, and one in five say that a medical error has caused either themselves or a family member serious health problems or death, surveys show that Americans vastly underestimate the extent of medical errors. About half of respondents believe the annual death total from medical errors to be 5,000 or less-nearly 20 times lower than the IOM’s estimate.

A new safety ranking report by Consumer Reports recently compared more than 2500 hospitals nationwide and revealed that many South Florida hospitals ranked on the very bottom of the list including Miami-Dade hospitals – Palmetto General Hospital and North Shore Medical Center.

Click here to how South Florida Hospitals Ranked.

The safety score was a result of several factors that included: patient mortality, readmissions, overuse of CT scans, hospital-acquired infections, and communicating with patients about medications and discharge instructions. The report’s preparers admit that the five patient safety criteria aren’t the only ones consumers should be aware of, but they are the ones for which reliable data could be obtained
As a result of the new findings, patient safety advocates call for more and continued transparency. Making more data publicly available to consumers – so they can make informed choices, and to doctors and hospitals – so they can continually improve their performance. The ultimate goals are to increase awareness, to continue to put the focus on preventing and reducing medical errors, and to spend more money on and embrace patient safety.