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Dive Brief:

  • The number of medical errors dropped by 28% between 2004 and 2014, new research from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality shows.
  • The analysis, based on medical malpractice payment reports, also shows a constant downward trend each year since 2013, when the rate edged up slightly.
  • A recent study published in The BMJ found that medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the U.S., after heart disease and cancer.

Dive Insight:

The total number of medical malpractice payment reports dropped from 17,641 in 2004 to 12,699 in 2014, according to the report. Roughly 80% of payouts were for treatment, diagnostic, and procedure-related errors. 

Overall quality of care also improved over the period — evidenced by improvements in about 60% of measures for quality, patient safety, effective treatment, and healthy living as well as 80% of patient-centered measures.


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