Study Finds One-Third of Americans Have Experienced a Medical Mistake

According to a recent survey, nearly one-third of Americans say that either they, a family member or friend have been the victim of a medical mistake.

The survey, conducted by Wolters Kluwer Health, surveyed 1,000 consumers above the age of 17. Medical mistakes were defined in the study as being given the wrong medication or wrong dosage or treatment for their medical condition. The survey also found that more than 20 percent of Americans say that they have been misdiagnosed by their doctor and 45 percent have been incorrectly billed by a medical provider.

The survey also revealed a strong concern for medical mistakes among the American people. Regardless of whether a medical mistake happened in the past, 73 percent of Americans are concerned about possible future medical mistakes, with 45 percent saying that they are “very concerned.”

When asked the reason why medical mistakes happen, 35 percent of Americans said that communication breakdown among hospital staff was the cause. Other common responses included medical personnel being in a hurry (26 percent), staff fatigue (14 percent) and staff shortages (12 percent).

Medical Mistakes Can Kill

Regardless of how they happen, medical mistakes are a serious problem in the United States. According to an Institute of Medicine report, between 44,000 and 98,000 die in hospitals each year-the eighth leading cause of death nationally-because of mistakes that could have been prevented. The institute identified the most common types of medical mistakes that can injure or kill patients as:

  • Diagnostic errors
  • Adverse drug events
  • Surgical errors (including wrong-site surgeries)
  • Burns
  • Falls
  • Mistaken patient identities
  • Transfusions involving wrong blood type

An Attorney Can Help

Due to their extensive training and expertise, the law requires physicians, surgeons and nurses to exercise a higher level of skill, care and knowledge than average people. When these professionals make a mistake that no other medical professional would make, such as operating on the wrong leg or failing to diagnose cancer, they are considered negligent under the law and their behavior constitutes medical malpractice.

If you or a loved one has been injured by a medical mistake while in the care of a medical professional, contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney. An experienced attorney can investigate the cause of the injury, determine if it occurred as a result of negligence and assist you in recovering the compensation due to you under the law.

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