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Study Reveals That Medical Errors Harm 5% of Patients


A new study published in The BMJ, an online medical journal, claims that 1 out of every 20 patients is “exposed to preventable harm” in a medical care setting. Dr. Maria Panagioti, the lead researcher for this study, further alleges that 12% of these preventable mistakes result in permanent patient disability or death.

What Constitutes Medical Malpractice?

Unfortunately, these statistics aren’t surprising; previous studies have alleged that medical errors are responsible for 250,000-400,000 American fatalities each year. The World Health Organization defines medical malpractice as “an incident that results in harm to a patient” that may be “physical, social or psychological (e.g., disease injury, suffering, disability and death).” A plaintiff – victim or surviving family member – can file a medical malpractice claim if a health care professional deviated from the standards of their practice and caused harm to a patient.

The following actions constitute medical malpractice:

  • Operating on the wrong patient
  • Wrong-site surgeries
  • Birth injuries
  • Improper transfusions
  • Anesthesia injuries
  • Pharmaceutical errors
  • Failing to diagnose or treat a condition
  • Misusing surgical instruments or equipment
  • Restraint-related injuries
  • Ventilator-associated pneumonia
  • Using contaminated or defective surgical tools

Researchers Examine 70 Observational Studies

Dr. Maria Panagioti and her collaborators collected data by researching 70 unique observational studies. These studies collectively contained information on over 330,000 patients who suffered preventable injuries and harm while under the care of a medical professional.

In the completed study, “Prevalence, severity, and nature of preventable patient harm across medical care settings: systematic review and meta-analysis,” Dr. Panagioti concluded that most medical mistakes are linked to:

  • Prescription drugs
  • Diagnosis mistakes
  • Therapeutic management incidents
  • Heath care infections
  • Invasive medical and surgical procedures

Linda Carroll, a reporter for NBC News, emailed Dr. Panagioti to learn more about the results of this study. Dr. Panagioti replied with the following statement: “We need strategies in place to detect and correct the key causes of patient harm in health care. Our study finds that most harm relates to medication, and this is one core area that preventative strategies could focus on.” In the article, Carroll interviewed other medical specialists who agreed that reducing medical errors in the United States would require managerial commitment, dedicated staff and patient engagement, and massive facility upgrades.

Have You Suffered Injuries While in the Care of a Medical Provider?

Contact the medical malpractice attorneys at Davis Levin Livingston if you or a loved one has been injured or killed by the actions of a negligent medical care provider. Our firm is renown as one of the leading medical malpractice firms in Hawaii and the greater United States. We can investigate your case, calculate your claim’s maximum value, and aggressively negotiate or litigate on your behalf to secure a settlement that reflects your legal and financial objectives.

Contact Davis Levin Livingston at (808) 740-0633 to schedule a case evaluation today.