Study Suggests Hospital Error Rate Overstated

From Times Wire Reports

Alarming studies suggesting that medical errors kill close to 100,000 hospital patients each year probably overestimate the problem, with the real total perhaps 5,000 to 15,000, researchers say.

In a study in the Journal of the American Medical Assn., researchers said the previous studies were flawed because there was little consensus on what constitutes a deadly error and did not consider whether the patient would have died even if the error hadn't occurred.

A report by the Institute of Medicine said hospital errors kill up to 98,000 patients a year. The mistakes included prescription drug errors and misused or malfunctioning equipment.

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