Medical Errors are One of the Leading Causes of Fatality in the United StatesJanuary 24, 2019
Heart disease, cancer, and other serious illnesses claim the lives of thousands of people in this country every year. However, you may be surprised to know that a significant percentage of fatalities in this country are caused by medical errors. In fact, researchers from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine found that, every year, there are over 250,000 patient fatalities caused by medical errors, making it the third leading cause of fatality. This troubling statistic has led researchers to urge the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to re-evaluate the way it collects data that is recorded on death certificates. However, the CDC has done little to make these changes.
According to one of the lead researchers, most medical-related fatalities are caused by poorly trained staff, as well as preventable adverse events, judgment errors, and lack of care. Too many medical institutions have outdated computer systems that tend to break down. In addition, medications get mixed up, post-surgery complications go undiagnosed, and healthcare professionals fail to communicate effectively with patients. The current medical coding system maximizes billing for physician services rather than collecting national health statistics. The outdated billing codes did not account for the fact that diagnostic errors, medical mistakes, and the lack of safety nets could result in a patient’s fatality.
The Johns Hopkins researchers examined four studies that looked at medical fatality rates from 2000 to 2008. They used hospital admission rates from 2013 to estimate 251,454 medical error-related fatalities based on a total of 35,416,020 hospitalizations. According to the researchers, this translates to 9.5 percent of all fatalities in the United States each year. According to the CDC, the top three causes of fatality in 2013 were heart disease, cancer, and chronic respiratory disease. However, Johns Hopkins researchers found that the 251,454 fatalities stemming from medical errors outnumbered the 149,205 patients who died from chronic respiratory disease, knocking it to fourth place.
The CDC’s report on the top-ranked causes of fatality in this country plays a large role in determining what areas of research will receive funding. Because heart disease and cancer receive so much attention, a large portion of research dollars goes toward research and public health initiatives related to these diseases. However, since medical errors are not on the CDC’s list, it does not receive the funding it deserves.
The lead researcher also made the point that reporting medical errors is a way to bring attention to systemic problems in the healthcare system, including poorly coordinated care, ineffective insurance networks, a lack of safety nets, and a lack of physician accountability. It is important to develop consensus protocols that help streamline the delivery of medicine, lower healthcare costs, and improve the quality of care.
Baltimore Medical Malpractice Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Represent Victims of Medical Mistakes
If you have been injured as a result of a medical error, contact the Baltimore medical malpractice lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton as soon as possible. Our skilled legal team will investigate the details of your case and determine whether your healthcare provider was negligent in any way. We will seek the maximum financial compensation you deserve for your injury. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.
Our offices are located in Baltimore, Columbia, Glen Burnie, and Towson, allowing us to represent medical malpractice victims in Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel County, Baltimore County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Maryland’s Western Counties, Prince George’s County, Queen Anne’s County, Southern Maryland, and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of Catonsville, Essex, Halethorpe, Middle River, Rosedale, Gwynn Oak, Brooklandville, Dundalk, Pikesville, Nottingham, Windsor Mill, Lutherville, Timonium, Sparrows Point, Ridgewood, and Elkridge.