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Risk Management

Back in 1984, the extrapolated statistics from relatively few records in only several states of the United States estimated that between 44,000-98,000 people annually die in hospitals because of medical errors.[3] Much work has been done since then, including work by the author of that study who moved on from those low estimates back in the 1990s. For example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently says that 75,000 patients die annually, in hospitals alone, from infections alone – just one cause of harm in just one kind of care setting.[4] From all causes there have been numerous other studies, including “A New, Evidence-based Estimate of Patient Harms Associated with Hospital Care” by John T. James, PhD[5] that estimates 400,000 unnecessary deaths annually in hospitals alone. Using these numbers, medical malpractice is the third leading cause of death in the United States, only behind heart disease and cancer. Less than one quarter of care takes place in hospitals. Across all care settings the numbers are higher.