A medical negligence conference in Dublin has heard that over 100,000 adverse events were reported by the HSE in the health system last year.
While many involved slips, trips and falls, others were more serious.
Lawyers have called for greater access to legal aid for victims of medical negligence.
Liam Moloney, Managing Partner of Moloney & Co Solicitors, said there needs to be much greater access to legal aid for victims of medical negligence.
He said that thousands of patients are unable to take cases under the current system, as access to legal aid is very limited.
Mr Moloney said that despite thousands of adverse events being reported each year, just 635 High Court summons were issued in 2010 and it was a David versus Goliath struggle for victims.
Action Against Medical Accidents Chief Executive Peter Walsh said that patient safety needed to be the top priority, above everything else.
He said the health system had a short memory and the same mistakes were repeated.
Part of the problem, he said, was that each time a new political party comes into power, they want to put their own new stamp on the health system.