An updated estimate says it could be at least 210,000 patients a year, more than twice the number in a frequently quoted Institute of Medicine report.
It seems that every time researchers estimate how often a medical mistake contributes to a hospital patient's death, the numbers come out worse.
In 1999, the Institute of Medicine published the famous "To Err Is Human" report, which dropped a bombshell on the medical community by reporting that up to 98,000 people a year die because of mistakes in hospitals. The number was initially disputed, but is now widely accepted by doctors and hospital officials 2014 and quoted ubiquitously in the media.
In 2010, the Office of Inspector General for Health and Human Services said that bad hospital care contributed to the deaths of 180,000 patients in Medicare alone in a given year.
Now comes a study in the current issue of the Journal of Patient Safety that says the numbers may be much higher 2014 between 210,000 and 440,000 patients each year who go to the hospital for care suffer some type of preventable harm that contributes to their death, the study says.
That would make medical errors the third-leading cause of death in America, behind heart disease, which is the first, and cancer, which is second.