What is the third leading cause of death in the United States? Medical errors might not be the first thing that comes to mind, but that’s exactly what a recent nationwide study discovered.
That’s why it’s critical that you know the facts before you or a loved one undergo medical treatment. Your life could be at risk, according to an experienced Syracuse medical malpractice attorney familiar with such serious cases.
Fatal medical error studies
Forbes magazine cited several medical studies in a recent article about the startling number of accidental patient deaths due to medical errors.
One study in 2000 conducted by the Institute of Medicine and published as the book “To Err Is Human,” estimated more than 100,000 people in the United States die each year due to preventable medical errors.
More recent studies reveal an even more startling picture. A study conducted by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine professors, Dr. Martin Makary and Dr. Michael Daniel, and published in May 2016 in The BMJ, estimate that more than 250,000 people die each year in the United States due to medical errors. That figure represents the third leading cause of death in the United States.
Causes of fatal medical errors
Makary, a professor of surgery at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said he believes part of the reason why fatal medical errors are so common is because they don’t receive the attention they deserve in the United States.
“Top-ranked causes of death as reported by the CDC inform our country’s research funding and public health priorities,” Makary said in the article published by Johns Hopkins Medicine. “Right now, cancer and heart disease get a ton of attention, but since medical errors don’t appear on the list, the problem doesn’t get the funding and attention it deserves.”
Makary added that he believes the high number of fatal medical errors isn’t “due to inherently bad doctors.” Instead, he and Daniel told Johns Hopkins Medicine they believe most fatal medical errors “represent systemic problems, including poorly coordinated care, fragmented insurance networks, the absence or underuse of safety nets, and other protocols, in addition to unwarranted variation in physician practice patterns that lack accountability.”
As Makary told USA Today in 2016 after his study came out, "People don’t just die from billing codes. We do not have an open and honest way of measuring medical error."
Common medical errors
Medical errors can cover a wide range. Some of the most common causes of fatal medical errors include:
- Delay in diagnosis
- Surgical errors
- Doctors perform wrong medical procedure
- Hospital infection due to unhygienic conditions
- Fatal medication errors due to:
- Wrong medication being prescribed
- Wrong dosage prescribed
Don’t underestimate the seriousness or complexity of your fatal medical error case. Talk to an experienced medical malpractice attorney at Cherundolo Law Firm PLLC today to learn more about the legal options available to you.