You often hear about cancer and heart disease as being the two leading causes of death in America, and rightfully so. But you may be surprised to learn that a sobering new study authored by doctors at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine shows that medical errors are in fact the third leading cause of death in the United States. The study reports that there is currently no real effort to study these errors or to put effective preventative measures in place. Read on to discover how medical malpractice and physician error can affect you and what a medical malpractice attorney can do to help.
What is a medical error?
Medical error includes lapses in judgment, skill, or coordination of care and diagnostic error. Dr. Martin Makary, the lead author of the study and professor of surgery at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, put it simply in the Washington Post
: “It boils down to people dying from the care that they receive rather than the disease for which they are seeking care.”
Reporting deaths and injuries from medical errors
According to a report from U.S. News
, medical errors cause at least 250,000 deaths per year, which amounts to almost 10% of deaths in the United States. The CDC has acknowledged that medical errors are underreported and that there are ways to more accurately get that data. One way to do this is through documenting the patient’s cause of death. ABC News reports
that the attending physician will normally document a patient’s cause of death and that each different cause of death is given a billing code number. The CDC uses these codes to measure mortality statistics. However, this system can overlook more complex situations where the final cause of death can be attributed to an underlying condition but fails to note that physician error also played a part.
Who can help
This article does not purport to give legal advice and is for informational purposes only.