Many US citizens continue to fall victims of adverse events considered preventable, especially when it comes to patient errors at hospitals.
Medical errors continue to occur across the USA on a regular basis. People die of wrong drug prescription, removal of healthy internal organs or amputation of wrong limb, etc. The number of such incidents reaches 1,002 cases in California alone between July 2007 and May of the current year. Patients in California are harmed at a rate of about 100 a month, the state Department of Public Health said.
Numerous medical errors at US hospitals made lawmakers take certain efforts to protect patients from paying for the cost of inappropriately provided care.
In the United States medical error is estimated to result in 44,000 to 98,000 unnecessary deaths and 1,000,000 excess injuries each year. One older extrapolation suggests '180,000 people die each year partly as a result of iatrogenic injury, the equivalent of three jumbo-jet crashes every 2 days'. It is estimated that in a typical 100 to 300 bed hospital in the United States, excess costs of $1,000,000 to $3,000,000 attributable to prolonged stays and complications just due to medication errors occur yearly.
However, medical error definitions are subject to debate, as there are many types of medical error from minor to major, and causality is often poorly determined. The Health Grades study statistics, based on AHRQ MedPAR data, were based on administrative records, not clinical records, and largely overlooked multi-causality of outcomes.
Medical care is frequently compared adversely to aviation, in that, while many of the factors which lead to error are similar, aviation's error management protocols are much more effective.