Medical Errors Now Third Leading Cause of Death in U.S.

Medical Errors on the Rise Lack Public Oversight

When you or a loved one visits medical care, it’s assumed that you’ll be treated with the utmost care by a professional who will look for health problems and corresponding solutions. While this is true in many circumstances, recent research shows the ubiquity of medical errors and their detrimental impact on the health of patients everywhere. According to a study conducted by patient-safety researchers and published in the BMJ, medical errors are now the third highest cause of death in the United States.

This frightening statistic indicates the need for a change in medical practices and your need for the assistance of an experienced medical malpractice lawyer. With medical errors rising, and little public oversight, who will stand up for the hundreds of thousands of patients who are injured, harmed or dead due to incompetencies, misdiagnoses and miscommunications?

What Is a Medical Error?

A medical error is defined by any breakdown in communication among medical professionals, misdiagnosis or inadequate medical care that results in the death of a patient. Frequently, in a medical report about cause of death following medical errors, doctors report data and information relating to national health statistics and leave out human failures. Though recently published research presents an estimated 251,000 deaths a year are related to medical errors, this number is in fact extremely conservative.

Medical errors are responsible for more deaths than common causes of death such as Alzheimer's Disease, accidents, lung disease and strokes. In a study conducted at Massachusetts General Hospital (which is considered one of the best hospitals in the nation), in a one-year period of time, there were mistakes in the administration of proper drugs or unintended effects following 45 percent of surgeries. This indicates that there was a “medication error in 1 of every 20 medications, and about 1 of every 2 surgical operations.”

Need for a Change in the Medical Care System

The fact is that even though medical errors are a prevalent cause of death, there are few resources being allocated to solve the problem. Hospitals are understaffed, yet perform private research regarding medical errors. Instead, this should be done at a national level.

“When a plane crashes, we don’t say this is confidential proprietary information the airline company owns. We consider this part of public safety. Hospitals should be held to the same standards,” Martin Makary told The Washington Post. Makary is a professor of surgery at the John Hopkins University School of Medicine and also led the research published in BMJ. 

It is vital that a drastic increase in funding and research is necessary in order to learn from past mistakes. Doctors should be able to learn from the mistakes of others without making the same ones at the cost of their patient’s health. Further, with extensive research, hospitals would be able to create standardized procedures that would reduce the amount of deaths and serious injuries due to the mistakes of medical professionals.

Medical Malpractice Lawyers in Gainesville, FL

“It boils down to people dying from the care that they receive rather than the disease for which they are seeking care,” Makary said.

With these intimidating statistics, it is more important than ever to acquire the assistance of a medical malpractice attorney to fight for the rights of you or a loved one following a doctor’s critical mistake. Until the proper changes in our medical system are implemented, Warner, Sechrest & Butts, P.A will fight for proper compensation and justice when you or a family member have been harmed due to medical errors.