If your doctor prescribes an inappropriate medication or gives you an incorrect diagnosis, would you want to know about it? Sure you would, but about one-third of doctors would rather stay “mum” for fear of being sued for malpractice. This may be in the best interest of your doctor, but it’s certainly not in your best interest, especially considering how common serious medical errors actually are.
A June 2010 report in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, which analyzed 62 million death certificates from 1979 to 2006 (the most recent year available), found that almost a quarter-million of those deaths were coded as having occurred in a hospital setting due to medication errors.ii In an AMA article discussing the study, one co-author was quoted as stating that “medication errors are the second-leading cause of accidental death, and the only kind of accidental death that is increasing over time.”iii
An estimated 450,000 preventable medication-related adverse events occur in the U.S. every year, and adverse drug reactions cause injuries or death in 1 of 5 hospital patients. That is nearly HALF a MILLION people who die every year that don’t have to. The costs of adverse drug reactions to society are more than $136 billion annually — greater than the total cost of cardiovascular or diabetic care.iv
Further, an analysis in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2010 found that 18 percent of patients were harmed by medical care (some repeatedly) and over 63 percent of the injuries could have been prevented.v In nearly 2.5 percent of these cases, the problems caused or contributed to a person’s death. In another 3 percent, patients suffered from permanent injury, while over 8 percent experienced life-threatening issues, such as severe bleeding during surgery.
In all there were over 25 injuries per 100 admissions! In other words you have a one in four chance of getting injured if you are admitted to the hospital, not very good odds by any stretch. Worse still, if you do suffer from a medical error, about one in three doctors may not own up to the mistake, which means you’ll have no way of knowing if your new symptoms or health problems are actually the result of inappropriate medical care …
Until Next time,