Medical Mistakes account from 44,000-120,000 deaths per year according to various reports. See Also:
  • Kohn LT, Corrigan JM, Donaldson MS, eds. "To Err Is Human: Building a Safer Health System. U.S." Institute of Medicine (IOM) (part of The National Academy of Sciences). Committee on Quality of Health Care in America. Washington, DC: National Academy Pr; 2000. In this report they say that Medical Mistakes account for 44,000-98,000 deaths per year.
  • Dr. Mercola reports 120,000 deaths.
  • Jason Lazarou and others, "Incidence of Adverse Drug Reactions in Hospitalized Patients," JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION Vol. 279, No. 15 (April 15, 1998).
    In this report they say that 76000-137,000 deaths are caused by Adverse Drug Reactions.
  • Robert Wachter, Internal Bleeding: The Truth Behind America's Terrifying Epidemic of Medical Mistakes, 2004
  • causes and reports at Cure
Most common causes:
  • Wrong Drugs or Dosages.
  • Test foul-ups: Results put on wrong chart; forget to follow up
  • Botched surgeries account for 12% of hospital deaths
  • Incorrect diagnoses
What you can do to protect yourself: The most important thing is to take an active part in your own health care. The medical profession is so caught up in bureaucracy and meeting requirements of HMOs, and government regulations that the patient's share of their time is getting smaller and smaller.
  • Ask a lot of questions. They make the health care profesional, who may be operating on autopilot, stop and think.
  • Insist on clear, definite answers
  • Manage your medications. Read back to the doctor your understanding on how to take it. Check the label to make sure it is what you thought you were supposed to get.
  • Make sure everyone is communicating and someone is in charge as you are shuffeled between specalists.
  • Get second opinions.
  • Get a support team. If you're going into a hospital get family and friends to go with you and help keep on top of your treatment.
  • Choose the hospital then the doctor. Major teaching hospitals perform a greater volume of procedures.
  • Be picky about your anesthesiologist. Their mistakes are far more dangerous than surgeons. Check 866 ASK-AMBS to see if they are board certified. Use for a small fee.
  • Use the Web. See links at the health page.

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last updated 18 Nov 2003