Lieff Cabraser Civil Justice Blog
Medical Errors Estimated to be Third Leading Cause of Death in United States

Medical Errors Estimated to be Third Leading Cause of Death in United States

There are 251,454 deaths as a result of medical malpractice every year – this equates to nearly 700 deaths a day and makes up 9.5% of annual deaths in the U.S. According to Johns Hopkins University researchers, it is estimated that medical errors are now the third leading cause of death in the nation, following heart disease and cancer. Preventable medical errors in hospitals and other health care facilities claim the lives of Americans more than respiratory disease, accidents, stroke, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes.

“It boils down to people dying from the care that they receive rather than the disease for which they are seeking care,” explained Dr. Martin Makary, a professor of surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Health care is substantially more dangerous than it should be. According to NPR, “Medical mistakes that can lead to death range from surgical complications that go unrecognized to mix-ups with the doses or types of medications patients receive.”

“Measuring the problem is the absolute first step,” stated Makary. “Hospitals are currently investigating deaths where medical error could have been a cause, but they are under-sourced. What we need to do is study patterns nationally.”

The reporting and tracking of preventable medical errors offers the best hope for prevention – yet neither doctors nor hospitals are obligated to report their mistakes. “The coding system used by CDC to record death certificate data doesn’t capture things like communication breakdowns, diagnostic errors and poor judgment that cost lives,” stated the study, which was published Tuesday in The BMJ, formerly the British Medical Journal.

“When a plane crashes, we don’t say this is confidential proprietary information the airline company owns. We consider this part of public safety. Hospitals should be held to the same standards,” Makary said.

Medical Negligence Law and Your Rights

The law of most states provides individuals who have been seriously injured as the result of negligence of another with several legal claims. The injured person may file a lawsuit seeking compensation for his or her pain and suffering, medical expenses, lost past and future wages and punitive damages.

In the case of a patient’s death due to negligence or medical malpractice, the surviving family members may file a wrongful death lawsuit against the healthcare provider.

A catastrophic injury or the loss of a loved one is a terrible tragedy, and we understand that it can be overwhelming, especially when the injury or death may have been caused by the negligence or wrongdoing of another.

Lieff Cabraser’s injury attorneys are experienced in handling personal injury cases nationwide. We are committed to providing the finest legal representation possible. We will review your medical malpractice case promptly, free of charge, and in strict confidence. Learn more here or contact an attorney at Lieff Cabraser.