Errors ranging from dispensing the wrong drugs to mismatching donor organs with recipients have steadily increased over the past decade, according to Hearst investigators. This has happened despite guidelines from federal advisory groups and professional organizations such as the American Medical Association and American Hospital Association.
Reports posted to the Web site Dead by Mistake, document instances of patients dying as a result of postsurgical infections, avoidable prescription drug overdoses and misdiagnoses. Botched treatments leading to extended comas and permanent disability are also detailed.
The extent of these problems first drew serious attention when the Institute of Medicine published To Err Is Human in 1999. That report set the annual number of deaths due to medical errors at 98,000.
Now, "more people die each month of preventable medical injuries than died in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001," noted Hearst Editor-at-Large Phil Bronstein. "The annual medical error death toll is higher than that for fatal car crashes."