A new report published in the Journal of Patient Safety suggests up to 400,000 preventable deaths per year in the U.S. may be attributed to medical error. Additionally, the report notes, medical errors cause serious harm to up to 8 million American patients annually.

“The epidemic of patient harm in hospitals must be taken more seriously if it is to be curtailed,” the author noted. “Fully engaging patients and their advocates during hospital care, systematically seeking the patients’ voice in identifying harms, transparent accountability for harm, and intentional correction of root causes of harm will be necessary to accomplish this goal.”

The report was written by John T. James, Ph.D., founder of Patient Safety America, an organization that advocates for a safer and more affordable U.S. health care system. The report was based on four studies “that used primarily the Global Trigger Tool to flag specific evidence in medical records, such as medication stop orders or abnormal laboratory results, which point to an adverse event that may have harmed a patient.

“Ultimately, a physician must concur on the findings of an adverse event and then classify the severity of patient harm,” an abstract noted.

Read the report here.