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New Survey Finds 21 Percent of Americans Report Personal Experience with Medical Errors

October 05, 2017

The Institute for Healthcare Improvement and the National Patient Safety Foundation (IHI) Lucian Leape Institute and NORC at the University of Chicago released survey findings last week demonstrating that, while the vast majority of Americans are having positive experiences with the health care system, 21 percent of adults report having personally experienced a medical error. The survey will be among topics covered next week by IHI’s Patricia McGaffigan, keynote speaker at HAP’s 2017 Patient Safety & Quality Symposium.

The new survey highlights medical harm’s impact on the patient’s emotional health, financial well-being, and family relationships. Other notable findings include:

  • Ambulatory settings are a frequent site of medical errors, and errors related to diagnosis and patient-provider communications are the most commonly reported
  • Nearly half of those who perceived that an error had occurred brought it to the attention of medical personnel or other staff at the health care facility
  • Most respondents believe that, while health care providers are chiefly responsible for patient safety, patients and their families also have a role to play

The nationwide survey of more than 2,500 adults was conducted by NORC from May 12 to June 26, 2017. The survey expands on a 1997 survey conducted by the National Patient Safety Foundation, which merged with the Institute for Healthcare Improvement earlier this year.

For information about HAP’s 2017 Patient Safety & Quality Symposium, contact Emily Lewis, education program manager.

If you have an interest in learning more about HAP’s patient safety and quality initiatives projects, contact Lisa Lesko, director, HAP quality initiatives, for additional information.

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