Research suggests that medical errors are now the third leading cause of death in the United States, totalling over 250,000 deaths per year. (3) In addition, The Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine estimates that every nine minutes, someone in a U.S. hospital dies due to a wrong or delayed medical diagnosis. (5) From a global perspective, The World Health Organization has estimated that 1 in 10 patients of high-income countries have been harmed while receiving care in a hospital, of which 50% of these incidents considered preventable. (1)
Additional statistics on patient safety globally and nationwide:
Yes, these statistics are alarming, yet they provide a sense of awareness and urgency that has inspired action and improvement across healthcare systems globally and nationwide. In recent years, the United States has made substantial progress toward improving patient safety, and as a result, patient care in the US is safer now than it was ten years ago. (2) Focused safety efforts have led to an estimated 28 billion in savings in hospitals between 2010-2015, and most importantly 125,000 fewer patients died. Also, there were over 3 million fewer hospital-acquired conditions from 2010 through 2015.
These numbers indicate that investments in improving patient safety can lead to better patient outcomes and significant financial savings. Continued focus and expenditure on safety education and awareness on the proper methods, procedures, and processes is essential to reducing medical errors, eliminating preventable deaths, and ensuring patient and worker safety.
March 10-16, 2019 is Patient Safety Awareness Week 2019. This week is a time to recognize and grow awareness of patient safety both locally and globally. It is time to inspire action for the improvement of safety for patients and healthcare workers everywhere. Although significant progress has been made, medical errors are still a major source of injury and a leading cause of death worldwide, indicating there is still much work to be done!