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Medical Errors Considered Third Leading Cause of Death in U.S.

Gavel and StethoscopeAccording to a new study published by the BMJ, medical errors can be considered the third leading cause of death in the United States now. These issues — such as improper medication, surgical errors, emergency room errors, and more — result in roughly 251,000 deaths every year. This statistic places it higher on the cause of death than accidents, stroke, respiratory disease, and Alzheimer’s.

The study was led by Martin Makary, a professor of surgery at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He claimed that medical errors includes issues such as communication problems from department to department and bad doctors. This backs up the claim from 1999 in which a report from the Institute of Medicine called preventable medical errors an epidemic.

The new published report is based on Makary’s research using four studies, including from the Health and Human Services Department’s Office of the Inspector General and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality between 2000 and 2008. The yearly number of 251,000 means that there are almost 700 medical error deaths a day throughout the nation. This equals about 9.5% of all annual deaths.

The study also determined that, because of the use of billing codes when determining cause of death, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention doesn’t require medical error reporting when it comes to data involving death. Makary believes that the CDC should make it so physicians are required to report any preventable error resulting in death.

There are a number of factors involved in medical errors and they can result in significant injury or death. Doctors, nurses, anesthesiologists, and the hospital itself may all be held accountable depending on the error involved and the situation. This can include “never events” — leaving objects in the patient, performing the wrong procedure, surgery on the wrong patient, or surgery on the wrong body part — and other negligent acts.

If someone you love was the victim of a fatal medical error, it is important to take action. The responsible party should be made liable in these matters and the family of the decedent may be able to seek damages resulting from the loss of a loved one. At The Perecman Firm, P.L.L.C., our New York City medical malpractice attorneys are dedicated to making sure you fully understand your rights and options in a case involving medical errors.

Call our firm today to discuss your potential claim and learn what you may be able to do to seek the compensation you need and deserve during this difficult time. Don’t go through it alone. We are by your side from start to finish.


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