How Many Medical Errors Are Unreported and Uncorrected?

Medical errors occur in hospitals and doctors offices all the time — in Pennsylvania and in the U.S. as a whole — and most of those medical errors go unreported.

In a recent study, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) wrote that 6 out of every 7 medical errors goes unreported. This means that most of the medical mistakes taking place in hospitals and doctors offices are not receiving the sort of attention that leads to adjustments in procedures and protocol.

Common medical events that are considered medical errors include some of the following:

  • Bedsores / pressure ulcers

  • Hospital borne infections

  • Bleeding caused by improper use of blood thinner

  • Medication errors

Unreported infections are particularly concerning, which is why it is now mandatory in 27 states for hospitals to report hospital-acquired infections. In 2005, just over 19,000 hospital-acquired infections were reported in Pennsylvania, 2,478 of which resulted in death. And that number just represents the infections which were reported.

There are many reasons why a medical error might go unreported, including:

  • An employee assumes someone else is going to report the mistake.

  • An employee assumes that the more commonplace mistakes don’t need to be reported.

  • An employee believes it is unlikely for the mistake to be repeated.

The Institute of Medicine reports about 100,000 annual deaths due to preventable medical mistakes. Reporting a medical error is one of the best ways to help ensure that the mistake doesn’t happen again — or at least doesn’t happen as often.

If you’d like to read more about medical errors and other medical malpractice issues, visit our extensive medical malpractice blog archives. You can see articles, like “Most Common Types of Medical Malpractice.”

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