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Deadly medical errors more common than previously estimated

Medical malpractice is more widespread than prior studies have revealed.  The newest study released by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) found that one in seven Medicare patients were harmed by the care they received in the hospital during a month studied by the agency.

The study shows that hospital patients are harmed much more frequently than previously estimated, according to Consumers Union, the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports.

"When mistakes are made in hospitals, the consequences can be serious and too often deadly," said Lisa McGiffert, Director of Consumers Union's Safe Patient project. "This report shows that hospital patients are being harmed by medical errors at an alarming rate. Unfortunately, most Americans have no way of knowing whether their hospital is doing a good job preventing medical errors."

In most states, hospital-specific information is kept secret and hospitals can get away with under-reporting errors because there is no effort made to systematically validate the data that hospitals are required to report. "The public should have the right to know when hospitals harm patients," said McGiffert.