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Medical Error Statistics: Third Leading Cause of Death in the U.S.

chartsA new report published in the BMJ[1] (formerly the British Medical Journal) based on a study by Martin Makary, a professor of surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, shows that common medical errors result in roughly 251,000 deaths each year. This makes medical errors the third leading cause of death in the United States behind heart disease and cancer.

The study included every type of category of medical error, from negligent and untrained doctors to systemic issues such as patient dumping or surgical errors in the operating room. These types of situations are never expected, but with the statistics showing how often these kinds of errors occur, they should at least now be considered as a possibility and increase awareness regarding these issues.

In 1999, preventable medical errors were labeled an epidemic in a report by the Institute of Medicine. Even worse is that the newest study shows there has not been much done to help remedy the issues since the IOM report was released. If anything, the problem has worsened with now nearly 700 deaths each day resulting from medical errors. This accounts for 9.5% of all annual deaths in the nation.

The belief is that the issue stems from the lack of requirements by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for doctors to report preventable medical errors as a cause of death. For instance, let’s assume that a patient comes into the hospital due to an issue with their stomach. The doctor prescribes medicine and releases the patient. A few weeks later, the patient returns complaining of pain. The doctor decides to operate, but during the surgery, he cuts a part of the intestines he wasn’t supposed to, causing excessive internal bleeding. Under cause of death, the doctor may report the initial issue with the stomach rather than the surgical error.

These are serious issues and it is important for negligent medical professionals to be held accountable for any of the damages they have caused. This is why medical malpractice lawsuits exist – to allow victims or the families of victims to seek compensation and justice when something goes wrong at the hands of a doctor or other medical professional.

At Simeone & Miller, LLP, our Washington D.C. medical malpractice attorneys aim to help victims of negligence seek the compensation they need to cover the expenses associated with any injuries caused by medical negligence. Our firm has helped over one thousand clients get the results they need. You can feel confident that we know what it takes to protect your rights.

If you or someone you love has been harmed due to medical error, we encourage you to contact our firm today and discuss your potential case with our team.