In a seminal patient safety report, it was estimated that up to 98,000 patients are killed each year by hospital errors.  That study relied to a alrge extent on volunatry reporting of adverse incidents.  Use of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement's "Global Trigger Tool" - which does not rely on colunatry reporting - reveals that the problem may be ten times greater.  Here is the abstract:


'Global Trigger Tool' shows that adverse events in hospitals may be ten times greater than previously measured. 

Classen DC, Resar R, Griffin F, et al. Health Aff (Millwood). 2011;30:581-589.

Despite numerous studies over the past three decades, one fundamental patient safety question remains controversial: what proportion of hospitalized patients are harmed by medical care? Prior estimates range from approximately 3% to nearly 17%, but this study found that nearly one-third of patients experienced an adverse event during hospitalization. This study used the Institute for Healthcare Improvement's Global Trigger Tool to detect adverse events and also found that this trigger tool identified significantly more adverse events than voluntary reporting or the AHRQ Patient Safety Indicators. An important caveat is that this study did not assess whether the adverse events detected were preventable. Nevertheless, the results do raise the concern that adverse events remain common despite enhanced safety efforts.

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