Medical malpractice may be more prominent and dangerous than most people realize. Things like hospital error can prove fatal to those who entrusted these facilities and their teams of medical professionals to provide them with dependable healthcare. Unfortunately, a Johns Hopkins study released in 2018 shows that hundreds of thousands of people are dying every year in the U.S. due to medical errors.
Hospital Errors are Now a Leading Cause of Death in the U.S.
The Johns Hopkins study claimed that over 250,000 people in the U.S. were the victims of fatal medical errors. While this may seem like a staggering number, other reports claim that as many as 440,000 people in the U.S. die every year due to medical errors. This puts medical errors as a leading cause of death, being outdone only by heart disease and cancer. The wide variation of numbers generated by the reports comes mainly due to the inconsistency with which doctors, funeral directors, coroners, as well as medical examiners note medical error as a person’s cause of death. Medical errors included in the Johns Hopkins study included everything from inadequately skilled staff, to an error in judgment by treating medical professionals, to system defects and other preventable, adverse effects relating to treatment. The errors also included technological issues as well as errors in medication types or dosages.
It may seem as though these numbers are coming out of nowhere. You may not have been aware of the pervasive problem with medical errors proving fatal. This is largely due to the way that deaths are reported in the U.S. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) post statistics relating to deaths in the U.S. based on information gathered from death certificates. Unfortunately, as stated above, medical error is rarely cited as the cause of death on death certificates.
Instead of citing medical error, such as human error or system failure, on a death certificate, medical examiners and others responsible for citing a cause of death for a death certificate will list the injury or medical condition that led a person to seek treatment in the first place. For instance, if a person came in for surgery to remove a cancerous tumor and a surgery error proved fatal, the person’s cause of death may be listed as cancer, as opposed to surgical error.
To adequately track medical errors as a cause of death, authors of the Johns Hopkins study are attempting to persuade the CDC to reevaluate how it collects death certificate data. The authors assert that the current method the CDC uses to collect national health statistics has a major failure as it does not classify medical errors as a separate cause of death. As of now, the CDC continues to calculate causes of death based on disease, injury, or morbid condition.
Medical Malpractice Attorney
Have you or a loved one suffered due to a medical error? Medical professionals owe patients a duty to exercise due care in treatment. When they fail to uphold this duty, patients can suffer fatal consequences. For more information about your legal rights, the Hunt Law Firm is here for you. Contact us today.