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Medical Errors Are a Leading Cause of Death

The Lancione Law Firm

An often overlooked issue, medical mistakes are a leading cause of death in the U.S. according to a recent Johns Hopkins Medicine study.

For any number of reasons, people in Ohio and elsewhere regularly require medical care. When patients go in for treatments, they typically expect that their medical providers are acting professionally, respectfully and with their best interests in mind. However, medical mistakes are an all too common occurrence in all types of health care settings. In fact, a recent study suggests that medical errors are among the leading causes of death in the U.S.

Common Medical Errors

In doctor’s offices, hospitals and other medical settings, there are typically protocols in place that are aimed at ensuring patient safety. Despite these types of safeguards, there are numerous doctor errors that frequently occur, including the following:

  • Providing the wrong medication dosage
  • Filling the wrong prescription
  • Using contaminated or defective equipment
  • Neglecting to monitor patients’ vital signs
  • Performing the wrong surgical procedure
  • Operating on the wrong patient or body part

Due to these and other medical mistakes, patients may suffer added or worsened medical conditions. In the most severe cases, such errors may prove fatal for patients.

Examining the Occurrence of Medical Error-Related Deaths

Recently, a group of patient safety experts from The Johns Hopkins University performed a study to glean a better understanding of medical mistake-related deaths in the U.S. They published their findings in The BMJ. For the study, the research team examined the data obtained in four other medical death rate studies that were performed between 2000 and 2008. The researchers then utilized 2013’s hospital admission rates in order to reason how many deaths each year occur as a result of medical mistakes.

Medical Errors Are a Leading Cause of Death

Per a Johns Hopkins Medicine report, there were 35,416,020 total hospitalizations in 2013. Through their analysis, the researchers extrapolated that medical errors contributed to 251,454 deaths in 2013. Based on these findings, the research team submits that medical mistakes are the third leading cause of death in the nation. Heart disease was the top cause of death in the U.S. in 2014. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that it led to 614,348 deaths. Contributing to 591,699 deaths in 2014, cancer was the second leading cause of death.

Despite their frequent occurrence, medical errors are not listed on the CDC’s leading causes of death list. This is because the methods the agency utilizes to collect national health statistics and classifying medical mistakes. The research team is pushing the CDC to update the criteria it uses to classify causes of death on death certificates.

Working with an Attorney

When medical mistakes occur in Ohio and elsewhere, patients may suffer worsened medical conditions or death. Consequently, they may require additional treatment and care. This may lead to a range of losses, including lost income, undue medical expenses or funerary costs. In order to understand their rights and options, those who experienced such situations may benefit from consulting with a legal representative.

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