New Study Names Medical Errors Third Leading Cause of Death in U.S.

New Study Names Medical Errors Third Leading Cause of Death in U.S.

Posted By Maher Law Firm || 4-May-2016

A Johns Hopkins University study recently published in the BMJ estimates that medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States behind heart disease and cancer. The study further revealed that shortcomings in tracking statistics are keeping the issue out of the public eye and hindering important research that would lead to more resources promoting patient safety.

Fatal medical errors can include:

  • Failure to diagnose in a timely manner
  • Failure to treat in a timely manner
  • Providing incorrect or incomplete treatment
  • Pharmaceutical errors
  • Anesthesia errors
  • Surgical complications

Through an analysis of previous research, the study found that more than 250,000 Americans die each year as a result of medical mistakes. They claim that the way the CDC keeps track of data is part of the reason why this pervasive problem is so underreported.

The CDC’s mortality statistics only count the underlying cause of death; in other words, the reason the patient sought medical treatment in the first place. This means that even if a medical error is listed on a death certificate, only the underlying medical condition will be counted – even if it wasn’t fatal. The CDC maintains that this approach is consistent with international guidelines and does not advocate any change to protocol unless there is a compelling reason to do so.

Although the study estimates the number of deaths that occur each year due to medical errors, the exact toll is still unknown because there is no effective way to tabulate instances of poor judgment and communication breakdown leading to a patient fatality. Johns Hopkins admits that they will not be able to understand the full impact of medical errors without enough public attention or adequate investment in further research. The authors of the study are calling for changes in death certificates to account for fatal lapses in care, as well as for the CDC to add medical errors to its annual list on the country’s top causes of death.

While many professionals disagree on the best ways to combat this problem, most agree that medical errors are extremely underreported and a major threat to public health. If you believe that you or a loved one has been a victim of medical malpractice, it is important that you know your rights. Contact The Maher Law Firm as soon as possible to meet with an Orlando medical malpractice lawyer to talk about your options for pursuing compensation.

Categories: Medical Malpractice
Blog Home