A single-vehicle accident can leave you with injuries that may require costly medical treatment. Your injuries can also prevent you from returning to work.

We expect physicians and medical professionals in general to keep us healthy and safe. Often, they meet this expectation.

Unfortunately, there are exceptions. You likely know that healthcare workers sometimes cause harm as a result of carelessness or negligence. What you might not realize is just how often this occurs.

According to a study published in The BMJ, one of the most highly-regarded professional journals in the medical field, errors harm more than one in 10 patients at some point when they are receiving medical care. The study also concluded that approximately half of those errors could have been prevented. Perhaps even more startling, about 12% of these errors either caused a patient’s death or left them permanently disabled.

Addressing the Impact of Medical Errors

It is inevitable that mistakes will sometimes be made when patients receive treatment. However, this does not mean we should accept what appears to be an unreasonably high rate of errors causing harm. According to Maria Panagioti, the leading author of the study, steps can and must be taken to address this alarming trend.

In an email, she stated, “We need strategies in place to detect and correct the key causes of patient harm in health care. Our study finds that most harm relates to medication, and this is one core area that preventative strategies could focus on.”

It is worth noting that the study did not focus exclusively on medical errors in the United States. Rather, it explored how this trend plays out in several countries. That said, Panagioti agrees that its findings can and likely do apply to the US.

Another medical professional who participated in this research, Dr. Albert Wu of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, pointed out that these findings offer a sobering reminder of how little progress has been made in this area despite decades’ worth of data and research indicating that medical malpractice is a serious issue that must be rigorously dealt with.

Wu said, “It’s a reminder that 20 years into our realization about the problems with patient safety, the rate of preventable harm caused by health care continues to be unacceptably high, causing a huge burden of unnecessary patient suffering and even death. This is one of the largest studies ever conducted on the frequency and severity of patient harm, and it provides evidence that these harms occur in all medical care settings. It’s a problem that needs our attention.”

Precisely how this problem will be managed more effectively in the future remains to be seen. This is partially because experts agree that there is no universal solution. Instead, a multi-faceted approach will be necessary. According to Tami Minnier, chief quality officer of UPMC, Pittsburgh, guarding against patient harm resulting from avoidable medical errors will require more diligent management, an emphasis on promoting engagement among all healthcare workers, and applying new technologies when doing so can improve patient safety.

It is inevitable that mistakes will sometimes be made when patients receive treatment.

How Patients & Their Families Can Seek Compensation for Losses Resulting from Medical Malpractice and Medical Errors

Ideally, the potential solutions outlined above will yield a decrease in the rate of medical errors causing harm to patients. However, in the meantime, patients and their families can’t simply assume they will never be the victims of medical malpractice. They need to understand their legal rights if they are ever harmed or if they ever lose a loved one because a medical professional was careless.

When healthcare workers cause injury or death, their victims or the surviving family members of their victims can often seek financial compensation for such losses as their medical bills, lost wages, funeral expenses, and more. They may do so by filing a medical malpractice claim.

They should also understand that the process of recovering compensation can be nuanced and complex if they lack proper training and experience. Gathering the evidence necessary to support a claim that they or a loved one was harmed because a medical professional was negligent requires conducting a thorough investigation.

Our team of Boston experienced medical malpractice attorneys at Swartz & Swartz, P.C., is prepared to do so on your behalf. Contact us online or call us at (617) 742-1900 for more information.


James Swartz, our Managing and Principal Attorney at Swartz & Swartz P.C., is a nationally recognized and respected trial attorney as well as consumer advocate. His practice focuses on cases involving negligence, torts, products liability, medical malpractice, wrongful death, and other claims involving catastrophic injuries.

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