Medical Errors Kill up to 98,000 Hospitalized Americans Annually
USA Today, November 11, 1999 issue reported that medical mistakes kill anywhere between 44,000 and 98,000 hospitalized Americans every year. The report by the Institute of Medicine calls the errors stunning and demands major changes in the health care system to protect patients. They call for a 50% reduction in such errors over a five year period as a target.
The report procedes to say that the problem is not as much cases of recklessness by individual doctors as much as basic flaws in the way hospitals and clinics operate. One of the reported problems was having problems reading the handwriting of doctors on their prescriptions. This is also compounded by the fact that many medications have smiliar sounding names.
The report states that health care is more than a decade behind improving safety compared with other high-risk industries. The financial impact of these mistakes is estimated to be approximately $8.8 billion dollars per year according to the report.
William Richardson, president of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and chairman of the institute panel that compiled the report sums his remarks up with, "These stunning high rates of medical errors? are simply unacceptable in a medical system that promises first to do no harm."