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Serious But Preventable Medical Injuries On The Rise

Previously, we have cited the landmark study by the Institute of Medicine published 2001 titled "To Err Is Human: Building A Safer Health System" as proof that preventable medical errors occur at alarming rates.  That study estimated that preventable medical errors caused 98,000 deaths per year.  It did not estimate the number of non-death injuries caused by preventable medical errors.

Today, seven years later, there is evidence that the rate of injury due to preventable medical errors continues to rise.  The Salt Lake Tribune reports that since 2002 the number of preventable serious medical injuries in Utah hospitals has increased by over 50%.   This figure is limited to "never events" which are defined are events that are never suppose to occur.  Such events include surgeries done on the wrong body site, surgeries in which instruments are left inside the patient, blood transfusion using the wrong blood type, and medication errors.