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Over 40% of Americans have experience with medical errors


 

 

More than 40% of adults have either experienced a medical error or been involved in the care of someone who did, according to a recent national survey.

Specifically, 21% of American adults said that they have personally experienced a medical error and 31% said that they have been involved in the care of another person who experienced an error. The combined total, which includes some overlap, was 41% in the survey conducted by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI)/National Patient Safety Foundation (NPSF) and National Opinion Research Center (NORC), a nonpartisan research institution at the University of Chicago, .

Medical errors were defined for respondents as “mistakes [that] sometimes result in no harm, while other times they may result in additional or prolonged treatment, emotional distress, disability, or death,” investigators at IHI/NPSF and NORC said in their report.

A misdiagnosed medical problem was the most common type of medical error, reported by 59% of those with error experience. The next most common type of error was a mistake during a test, surgery, or treatment, which was mentioned by 46% of those with error experience, followed by a diagnosis that didn’t make sense (42%), lack of respect (39%), and incorrect instructions about follow-up care (29%), the IHI/HPSF and NORC report indicated.

Feelings of disrespect were more common among younger respondents: 46% of those aged 18-44 years said they were not treated with respect by a health care provider, compared with 34% of those aged 45 years and older. No differences in disrespect were seen with regard to socioeconomic status, health literacy, or English language proficiency. Those who spoke a language other than English at home, however, were more than twice as likely to get the wrong medication from a physician (34%) than were those who did not (15%), the report showed.

The survey, which had a sampling error of plus or minus 3.2 percentage points, was conducted between May 12, 2017, and June 26, 2017, and involved 2,536 respondents. It was conducted with support from Medtronic.

Patient survey: Ten most common medical errors

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