Archive for May, 2016

Research Shows Medical Errors Are Third-Leading Cause of Death

Analysis conducted by Johns Hopkins doctors finds over 250,000 deaths yearly

According to a new study, medical errors are behind only cancer and heart disease as a cause of death in the United States.

This new report, conducted by Johns Hopkins researchers and published in The BMJ, showed that medical errors in hospitals, doctor’s offices and other healthcare facilities are much more common than previously believed. Medical errors claim over 250,000 lives annually, more than respiratory disease, accidents and stroke.

Researchers Martin Makary and Michael Daniel stated that their goal was to shed more light on a problem that historically has been overlooked despite putting thousands of lives at risk. Makary said in an interview that his investigation of medical errors included everything from poor judgment by individual doctors to more systemic problems, such as miscommunications when patients go from one department to another or one facility to another.

Their analysis was a comprehensive review of four large studies, including one by the Health and Human Services Department’s Office of the Inspector General and one by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

Reporting standards do not document preventable deaths, researchers say

According to the study results, medical errors should rank third on the annual ranking of causes of death published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), behind only heart disease and cancer.

However, medical errors are currently not included in the CDC figures because of the way the CDC instructs physicians to fill out death certificates. Under current standards, the cause of death is recorded as the underlying medical issue that led the patient to seek treatment, not the medical error.

For instance, if a doctor fails to diagnose a patient at risk for a stroke and the patient subsequently suffers a stroke and dies, the cause of death is recorded as stroke, not medical error. Likewise, if a patient dies on the operating table while undergoing surgery for a respiratory illness, the cause of death is listed as respiratory disease – even though a surgeon’s error directly caused the death.

The findings of the Johns Hopkins study could have major implications, both for the healthcare system in general and for families who have lost loved ones due to medical errors. While it has long been known that medical errors can put patients at risk, this new information shows just how prevalent they are – and how difficult it can be to prove that a medical professional’s mistake caused the death.

That’s why it’s so important for friends and relatives of a patient who has died due to medical error to seek qualified legal representation as soon as possible. A caring, compassionate and experienced attorney who knows how to ask the right questions can build a strong case to bring justice after such a loss. If you’ve lost a loved one to a medical error, contact the Law Offices of James Morris.

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