Medical Errors Third Leading Cause of Death in U.S., Study Says
A recent study published in The BMJ medical journal is shedding light on the serious impact of medical errors in hospitals and other health care settings. According to the study – which was conducted by patient safety researchers at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and published in May – medical errors may now be the third leading cause of death in the United States.
Researchers noted the following about the study:
- Medical errors encompassed a broad category ranging from negligent doctors to issues involving communication and mistakes during patient transfers.
- Medical mistakes cause roughly 251,000 deaths each year – more than strokes, diabetes, respiratory disease, and accidents.
- The numbers equate to an average of 700 deaths every day – and roughly 9.5% of all deaths in the U.S. annually.
The study drew from an analysis of four larger studies that found high rates of error-related fatalities throughout the health care industry. Aside from variance in data and individual circumstances, it ultimately shows that many people are dying from care they are receiving rather than the underlying medical issue for which they are seeking care.
Medical experts and other advocates have begun using the study as a way to continue a larger conversation about medical errors. According to some, variability in practice and a lack of definitive standardization in how medical care is administered contributed to the problem of identifying errors and taking steps to remedy them.
As a step in the right direction, researchers suggest better oversight and more resources in order to analyze patterns on a national scale. Just as commercial airliners must comply with standards and oversight from the FAA, researchers believe hospitals should also be held to similar standards in the name of public safety. Additionally, they believe this oversight should apply to cases where patients suffer serious injuries caused by medical mistakes.
Fortunately for victims and families who have suffered harm as a result of preventable medical errors, the legal system does provide pathways for holding responsible parties accountable. At Shrager, Spivey & Sachs, our Philadelphia injury lawyers have helped victims of negligence and medical malpractice recover millions of dollars in compensation. If you believe you may have a case and have questions about your rights, contact us for a free consultation.