In 1999, a respected report by the Institute of Medicine estimated that medical errors in American hospitals kill up to 98,000 people every year. Hospitals tried to respond with initiatives to reduce errors, such as computerized medication orders and reduced workloads for doctors during residency. The data show, however, that they have not done enough.
An important new federal report has found that as many as 15,000 Medicare patients die in American hospitals every month from "adverse events" that include medical errors. The Office of the Inspector General at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued the report in November as part of an ongoing effort by HHS to reduce medical mistakes and control the costs of care.
Multiplying 15,000 per month by twelve months in a year yields the staggering figure of 180,000 deaths per year nationally - among the Medicare population alone!
The situation in Tennessee reflects the broader national problem. According to the most recent report from the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance, over 3100 medical malpractice claims were closed in Tennessee in 2008, with another 5000 still pending.
Given this disturbing data, Nashville attorney Randy Kinnard says that now is not the time to roll back the rights of victims and their families to seek recourse and compensation in the civil justice system. "If you limit someone's responsibility and accountability, you're going to drive up the number of mistakes by medical care professionals," Kinnard said. "That's just human nature."
If you have been harmed by a medical mistake, or a family member has been seriously injured or killed, contact an experienced personal injury attorney. A medical malpractice lawyer can explain your legal options and help you move forward.