A professor from Johns Hopkins medical school has authored a new study showing that medical errors accounts for the deaths of around 250,000 people each year. This puts medical errors as the country’s third leading cause of death.
This isn’t the first study to show the same results; however, it’s difficult to know exactly how many deaths are due to medical errors each year. There is no place on death certificates to list a medical error. The author of the latest study believes this needs to change. He said, “People don’t just die from billing codes. We do not have an open and honest way of measuring medical error.” One reason that hospitals, doctors and others may not acknowledge that errors occur is because they are afraid of medical malpractice lawsuits.
According to the study, only cancer and heart disease kill more people each year than medical errors. In many cases, the reason for the medical error is because a treatment or test was done. This also means that since a there wasn’t an error that was visibly committed — such as giving a patient the wrong medication — the act of omission is often overlooked.
In this latest study, the professor wants hospitals to accurately report medical errors, although he admits that legal and medical protections are needed.
Medical malpractice or negligence is obviously a serious problem in the U.S. It’s important that doctors and other medical staff are held accountable when a patient suffers because of medical errors. Victims of medical malpractice may want to seek the advice of an experienced attorney to determine what their legal options are.
Source: USA Today, “Second study says medical errors third-leading cause of death in U.S.,” Jayne O’Donnell, May 04, 2016