Survey Results Reveal 21 Percent of Adults Have Been Affected by a Medical Error

In September 2017, the National Patient Safety Foundation and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (NPSF/IHI) released results of a survey of American adults that looked at their experiences with the health care industry.

The findings indicate that 21 percent of the more than 2,500 adults surveyed reported “having personally experienced a medical error.”

The same survey found that 31 percent reported “someone else whose care they were closely involved with [had] experienced an error.”

Misdiagnosis was one of the most frequently reported errors. Outpatient care settings were sited as a common location where errors occur.

And surprisingly about half of patients surveyed who had experienced a medical error did not report it to anyone.

“These findings back up experiences we see in working with our clients everyday as medical malpractice attorneys,” states Eileen Kroll, Registered Nurse and Medical Malpractice Attorney at Cochran, Kroll and Associates in Livonia, Michigan.

“Patients need to have a voice and know that they have a say in their own care,” Kroll continues. “If they report the error, they can try to impact how care is provided in the future—to educate the health care providers that this was not acceptable and hopefully have an impact in preventing the same or similar error to another patient in the future.”

“A preventable complication resulting from a patient’s care, whether or not it is immediately evident or harmful to a patient, is considered a medical error,” Kroll explains. When a doctor, nurse, hospital or other medical provider makes a medical error that affects the safety of the patient, it’s considered Medical Malpractice and patients have a legal right to be compensated for their suffering.”

According to a press release by the NPSF/IHI, “The survey results show that Americans recognize that patient safety is a critically important, but complex, issue,” says Tejal K. Gandhi, MD, MPH, CPPS, Chief Clinical and Safety Officer, IHI, and President of the IHI/NPSF Lucian Leape Institute. “The focus on diagnostic errors and the outpatient settings closely parallels other research in this area and confirms that health care improvers need to take a systems approach to safety that encompasses all settings of care, not just hospitals.”

Survey results also indicated “when errors do occur, they often have lasting impact on the patient’s health, emotional health, financial well-being, or family relationships.”

“This is why it’s crucial to hire an experienced attorney to represent you if you have suffered due to a medical error,” Kroll continues. “While the majority of people have positive experiences with the health care industry, improvements must be made to ensure patient safety. Until changes can be put into effect, patients can – and should – take legal action when they suspect a medical error has occurred.”