21% Of Americans Have Had Personal Experience With Medical Errors

The results of a survey that was released on September 28, 2017 found that 21% of adults in the United States report having personally experienced a medical error. The national survey conducted by the IHI/NPSF Lucian Leape Institute and NORC at the University of Chicago (“NORC”) found that when medical errors do occur, those medical errors often have lasting impact on the patient’s physical health, emotional health, financial well-being, or family relationships.

The survey also found that 31% of Americans report that someone else whose care they were closely involved with experienced a medical error, and that ambulatory settings are a frequent site of medical errors. The most commonly reported medical errors are related to diagnosis and patient-provider communications.

In addition to the above findings, the survey found that almost one-half of those who perceived that a medical error had occurred brought it to the attention of medical personnel or other staff at the health care facility; most of the study’s respondents believe that while health care providers are chiefly responsible for patient safety, patients and their families also have a role to play (more than 8 in 10 of the respondents believe that patient safety is the responsibility of health care providers, hospital leaders and administrators, as well as family members and patients); and, when asked what caused the medical error they experienced, people identified on average at least seven different factors.

About The Survey

The nationwide survey conducted by NORC from May 12, 2017 to June 26, 2017 involved a nationally representative sample of 2,536 adults using the AmeriSpeak Panel, which is the probability-based panel of NORC. The sample included an oversample of low socioeconomic status adults with less than a high school education and a household income of less than $50,000 a year (n=524). Interviews were completed online and using landlines and cell phones. Results of the survey have a margin of sampling error of +/- 3.2 percentage points. The survey was intended to expand on a survey from 1997 that was conducted by the National Patient Safety Foundation (NPSF), which merged with the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) in 2017.

An expert who is the Chief Clinical and Safety Officer of IHI and is the President of the IHI/NPSF Lucian Leape Institute stated with regard to the survey’s results, “The survey results show that Americans recognize that patient safety is a critically important, but complex, issue. The focus on diagnostic errors and the outpatient settings closely parallels other research in this area and confirms that health care improvers need to take a systems approach to safety that encompasses all settings of care, not just hospitals.”

What Is NORC?

NORC describes itself as an objective and non-partisan research institution that delivers reliable data and rigorous analysis to guide critical programmatic, business, and policy decisions. NORC has conducted studies, created and applied innovative methods and tools, and advanced principles of scientific integrity and collaboration, since 1941.


If you or a loved one were injured by a medical error in the United States, you should promptly consult with a medical malpractice attorney in your U.S. state who may investigate your medical error claim for you and represent you or your loved one in a medical malpractice case, if appropriate.

Visit our website or call us toll-free in the United States at 800-295-3959 to be connected with medical malpractice lawyers in your state who may assist you.

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This entry was posted on Friday, November 3rd, 2017 at 5:21 am. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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