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Medical errors third-leading cause of death in America

A “Medical Errors” report just released by U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer calls medical errors a “quiet and largely unseen tragedy.” New research estimates up to 440,000 Americans are dying each year as the result of medical errors and other preventable hospital errors. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), and based on these figures, medical/hospital errors is the third-leading cause of death in America, behind heart disease and cancer.

Senator Boxer stated, “these deaths are all the more heartbreaking for families because they are preventable.”

The Partnership for Patients, a new public-private partnership funded through the Affordable Care Act, released a list of the 9 most common medical errors:
1. Adverse drug events
2. Catheter-associated urinary tract infections
3. Central line-associated blood stream infections
4. Injuries from falls and immobility
5. Obstetrical adverse effects
6. Bedsores
7. Surgical site infections
8. Blood clots
9. Ventilator-associated pneumonia

Senator Boxer’s research found that the direct costs of medical errors total $19.5 billion annually and that the economic costs of medical errors, including lost productivity, could be as much as $1 trillion a year.

Last year marked the first time since 2013 that there was an increase in the total medical malpractice payout amount, as well as the total number of payouts, according to an analysis from Diedrich Healthcare. Payouts grew by 4%. Mistakes relating to diagnoses accounted for 33% of the payouts, with surgical mistakes following closely behind at 23%.

The top three states for medical malpractice payouts were all in the northeast – New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Interestingly, 96% of cases settled before going to trial, this is in sharp contrast to the notion that malpractice suits draw out in court.

Senator Boxer is pushing hospitals in her state of California to respond to her findings with actions they are taking to reduce the most common medical errors. She also reported her findings to senate and challenged all of her colleagues, on both sides of the aisle, to make a “new, bold recommendation on patient safety – transparency – making all hospital safety data public.”

Senator Boxer published actions currently being taken in hospitals to prevent medical errors in hopes it can help others. The complete report can be found online. at

Preventing medical errors will not only save lives, it will improve the quality of health care for all Americans. If you have been injured due to a medical error, call the Pennsylvania personal injury lawyers at Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys at 855-866-5529 or visit us online at

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