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.