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How many people die from medical malpractice or medical error each year?

by | Jun 15, 2021

Our best studies have concluded that medical malpractice and medical error are both wide ranging and underreported. The numbers of deaths attributable to medical error has been increasing in the last 20 or so years, mostly because of a renewed effort to properly categorize the causes of death. An Institute of Medicine study in 1999 concluded that between 44,000 and 98,000 Americans die in hospitals due to medical errors. A 2010 study increased the number to 180,000. This was updated again in a 2013 study that suggested that 210,000–440,000 deaths per year were attributable to medical malpractice. 

Most recently, a comprehensive and detailed report from Johns Hopkins University in 2016 argued that medical errors may be responsible for over 250,000 deaths each year, making medical error the third leading cause of death in the U.S.

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