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Study indicates Number of Medical Mistakes is Higher than Feared

February 27th, 2014

There have been countless studies conducted that attempt to quantify the true number of times that a mistake made in an American hospital has contributed to a patient death. The universally accepted number was once 98,000 in a year, the result of an Institute of Medicine study. Ten years later that number nearly doubled to 180,000 patients based on a report from the Office of the Inspector General for the Department of Health and Human Services. But now a study is indicating that our data-collection methods have been flawed and that the actual numbers are much higher, and may be as high as 440,000 hospital patients per year whose deaths are in someway linked to a harm caused during their care. If correct the new estimate would mean that medical errors only fall behind cancer and heart disease for causes of death in the United States.

The new numbers are the result of a system devised by a NASA toxicologist, John T. James. James lost his son to negligent hospital care and has been a patient safety advocate ever since. He utilizes a screening method called the Global Trigger Tool that creates a more accurate review of medical records by searching for indications of error such as infection or injury. This eliminates the problem of medical records not indicating where errors have been made, and the results were a boost of the number of preventable errors to approximately 210,000 per year. So where does the number 440,000 come from? It accounts for mistakes made as a matter of omission – situations where treatment should have been provided but wasn’t. It also accounts or diagnostic errors.

Though patient advocates applaud the new tool, the American Hospital Association is not showing interest in adopting it, and is sticking with the system used by the Institute of Medicine.

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Gavin P. Lentz, Esq.
Bochetto & Lentz

Gavin Lentz (right) was selected as a "Super Lawyer" for 2006-2009 and 2010-2015 in New Jersey by Philadelphia Magazine. He has also been selected as a "Super Lawyer" by Philadelphia Magazine and the Legal Intelligencer in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011 - 2015.

On September 16, 2002 Mr. Lentz was selected as one of the top 50 lawyers in Pennsylvania by the Legal Intelligencer.

He has made many television appearances, including on Fox News, The Today Show, Inside Edition, and The Phil Donahue Show.

Mr. Lentz is a member of the American Trial Lawyers Association and the Million Dollar Advocates Forum.

As a former prosecutor, he knows how to aggressively go after large pharmacy chains to prove the facts necessary to protect your loved one's rights.

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