Medical mistakes worry nearly three-quarters of patients

In 1999, the Institute of Medicine’s report “To Err is Human” estimated that nearly 100,000 people in the U.S. die annually as a result of medical mistakes and errors. This report put patient safety in the forefront of national discussion.

Over a decade later, medical mistakes and doctor errors still worry patients. According to a recent survey on patient safety by Wolters Kluwer Health, a publisher of medical journals, a little less than three-quarters of 1,000 polled patients stated they were worried about medical errors.

Patients indicated being either very or somewhat concerned about medical errors. Perhaps more startling is that thirty percent of those polled indicated that either they personally, a family member or a friend had experienced a medical mistake. Further, a little over a fifth indicated that they were misdiagnosed by a doctor.

In order to protect themselves, about 67 percent did their own research on the medical issue to confirm a diagnosis and most indicated that they sought a second opinion on a course of medical treatment, action and/or diagnosis. However, self-research by the patient is internet-based and may not necessarily provide accurate information or may present conflicting information. Thus, most patients must rely on their doctors to give them the correct information.

In an older survey on patient safety conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation in 2004, a little over a third of the nearly 2000 polled persons indicated that a loved one had experienced a medical mistake. Fifty-five percent indicated that, since 1999, the quality of care had either remained the same or improved, but 40 percent indicated it had worsened.

Despite medical advances in technology, treatment and pharmacology, as the most recent survey suggests, medical mistakes occur regularly, putting patient safety at risk. Doctors have an on-going duty to provide a reasonable standard of care. In the absence of such care or negligent care, they may be held liable. An error could have life-altering implications for the patient and his or her family.

Those who have directly suffered serious harm or experienced the death of a family member due to a medical mistake may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, loss of earning capacity, loss of consortium, funeral expenses and more.

Source: American Medical News, “73% of patients worry about medical errors,” poll says,” Kevin B. O’Reilly, Sept. 4, 2012

Posted in: Medical Malpractice