A recent study performed by the Hearst Corporation has uncovered some alarming statistics about medical malpractice in the United States. It estimates that some 200,000 Americans will die this year as a result of medical errors and hospital mistakes.
The study is aptly titled “Death By Mistake” and reveals the failure of the medical community to meet the challenge put forth by the Federal Government a decade ago to cut the number of errors in half. The goal was to do so within five years. An additional five years later and rather than reducing the incidents of medical malpractice, it appears that the situation has gotten worse.
A few of the more alarming findings of the Hearst investigation:
20 states have no medical error reporting at all, five states have voluntary reporting systems and five are developing reporting systems
Of the 20 states that require medical error reporting, hospitals report only a tiny percentage of their mistakes, standards vary wildly and enforcement is often nonexistent
In terms of public disclosure, 45 states currently do not release hospital-specific information
Only 17 states have systematic adverse-event reporting systems that are transparent enough to be useful to consumers
New York’s reporting system has run out of money and staff—its last public report is four years old
Washington State requires reporting, but doesn’t enforce that requirement—and the legislature failed to provide funds to analyze the results
The report and all the research involved has resulted in the creation of an informative website, DeadByMistake.com, which features an interactive map that provides a state-by-state snapshot of reporting systems and two interactive databases. One database tracks hospitals’ participation in national safety programs, the second brings together the millions of anonymous patient discharge records that Hearst reporters collected from California, Texas, New York and Washington.
Hearst Newspapers Editor, Phil Bronstein, who was actively involved in the study, pointed out two staggering statistics:
“More people die each month of preventable medical injuries than died in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The annual medical error death toll is higher than that for fatal car crashes.”
With all the recent talk of healthcare reform and an overhaul of the medical malpractice laws in this country, it’s critical that these numbers and statistics do not go unnoticed. There is an ever-increasing problem in America and abroad in which doctors are not acting with the care they are entrusted with, and we need to stand up and hold these physicians accountable for their actions. Until then, there will be no medical malpractice reform.
To read more about the Hearst study, click here: HYPERLINK “http://hearst.com/news_content.php?id=524″ http://hearst.com/news_content.php?id=524