Make No Mistake – Medical Errors Are Killing Us
Recent study identifies medical errors as the third-leading cause of death in U.S.
In the past 17 years, two major studies and an assessment by a federal government agency linked medical mistakes made in U.S. hospitals to patient deaths. And in all three cases, the results were staggering.
Due to the outcome, the most recent study – which came out in The Journal of Patient Safety in 2013 – got plenty of ink. According to media accounts, the study conducted by NASA toxicologist John T. James puts the annual death toll in the hundreds of thousands. At the time, that would have meant that medical mistakes made in hospitals were the third-leading cause of death in the United States.
Medicare patients hospitalized for various reasons are also at significant risk, according to the Office of Inspector General for the Department of Health and Human Services. In 2010, the agency estimated that more than 100,000 deaths could be attributed to poor care each year.
The connection between hospital errors and patient deaths also surfaced in 1999. Published by the Institute of Medicine, that report, “To Err Is Human,” estimated the number of deaths at close to 100,000 people per year.
Of course, “medical mistakes” or “hospital errors” are generic terms. The specific causes of patient deaths are mistakes made during invasive procedures. Some mistakes happen when doctors don’t order the correct diagnostic tests based on the patient’s symptoms. In other cases, appropriate treatment isn’t administered in time to prevent complications. Then there are the cases in which the doctor administers the wrong medication or the wrong amount.
Not all of these mistakes result in fatalities, however. Some errors result in catastrophic injuries, such as the loss of a limb, chronic illness or permanent disability.
Although it’s easy to blame serious or fatal errors on ineptitude, lack of professionalism or skill isn’t always the root cause. Even the best doctor or surgeon can make a mistake that goes unnoticed – and because death is a common occurrence in U.S. hospitals, they are sometimes unaware that an error contributed to or caused a fatality.
The damages, caused by these errors, take an incalculable toll upon patients and their families. If you witness a medical mistake while you or a family member is hospitalized, the best thing to do is report it immediately. In addition to making your healthcare team aware of the issue, you should also talk to someone on the hospital staff that can look into what happened.
If you believe a loved one died or was seriously injured due to a medical mistake while they were hospitalized, you may also be able to sue the doctor or hospital responsible. Contact Lomurro Law online or call us at 732-482-9285 to set up a meeting with a leading New Jersey wrongful death attorney today.