Hospital Error Rate Calculations

Bob Latino blatino at RELIABILITY.COM
Thu May 5 16:49:08 UTC 2016

Forgive my naivety...

Exactly what is considered 'Medical Error'?
How and when is it recorded on the front lines?
How is it reported to entities that end up calculating these national 'medical error rates'?

WRT to this topic everyone always cites the 1999 IOM report and the 44k - 98k/yr death rate due to 'medical error'.  I recall in reading that report, in the fine print, that only included 'errors of commission' and not 'errors of omission' (which is likely greater).

Then in 2014 we hear the NPSF President Tejal Ghandi citing the 'hospital error' death rate of 400,000 at a Senate hearing.

Is a medical error and a hospital error the same thing?
Are these entities getting their data from the same sources?

Certainly these sources are only aggregating what is reported, so what is unreported could be a great deal more.

Now I hear on this forum that those error numbers 'do not include outpatient mistakes/deaths, nursing home mistakes/deaths or ambulatory care surgical centers', essentially meaning those stats are primarily acute care hospitals. Certainly if all of this is valid, medical and/or hospital error could easily be the number one killer in the U.S.

Do we really have a lock on what the actual magnitude of the problem is?  If we don't know the magnitude of 'hospital or medical error' we certainly can't carve out how much of that unknown is due to diagnosis error can we?

Robert J. Latino, CEO
Reliability Center, Inc.
blatino at

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