A recent study that uses a new method for identifying medical errors indicates that as many as 90 percent of hospital mistakes are overlooked. The study suggests that the prevalence of medical malpractice is grossly underestimated and the hospital error rate may be 10 times greater than previously believed, USA Today reports.
“The more you look for errors, the more you find,” one researcher said.
The majority of hospitals track errors through voluntary error reporting or coding systems recommended by the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. The researchers conducting the study used a new method called the Global Trigger Tool.
When the Global Trigger Tool and AHRQ methods were tested on 795 patient records, the AHRQ method revealed 35 errors but the Global Trigger Tool found 354 errors in the same records, USA Today reports. Some researchers are not surprised by the large disparity in the numbers.
“Nobody is surprised that systems that rely on voluntary reporting would tend to let a high percentage of cases fall through the cracks,” a researcher said. “It’s not a surprise that a method based on careful chart abstraction by knowledgeable reviewers would do a much better job in tracking adverse events.”
Researchers also noted that the number of errors is likely greater because both error tracking systems rely on medical records and cannot detect as many errors as in-person observation.
The most common errors found were medication errors which are common portland personal injury lawsuits. Errors in surgical and nonsurgical procedure, and common infections were also found. “These are the areas where we have always found problems,” a researcher said. “Obviously, we still have a lot of room for improvement.”