21% Of Americans Have Experienced a Medical Error

HealthDay News — More than 1 in 5 patients report having experienced a medical error, according to a survey released by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI)/National Patient Safety Foundation Lucian Leape Institute and NORC at the University of Chicago.

Researchers conducted a nationwide survey of 2536 adults from May 12 through June 26, 2017. The nationally representative sample included an oversample of low-socioeconomic-status adults with less than a high school education and an annual household income below $50,000 (n=524).

The results show that 21% of adults report having personally experienced a medical error, while 31% report that someone else whose care they were closely involved with experienced an error. Ambulatory settings are a frequent site of medical errors, and the most commonly reported errors were related to diagnosis and patient-provider communications.

Respondents cited, on average, at least seven different factors that contributed to the medical error they experienced. In addition, respondents indicated that health care providers are chiefly responsible for patient safety but that patients and their families also have a role to play.

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“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,” Tejal K. Gandhi, MD, MPH, IHI’s chief clinical and safety officer, said in a statement.

Disclosures: Medtronic partially funded the survey.

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New survey finds 21 percent of Americans report personal experience with medical errors [press release]. Cambridge, MA: IHI newsroom; September 28, 2017.