Medical malpractice

Medical Error Is America’s Third Largest Cause of Death

November 9, 2015 by Carrie Capouellez
medical error

In 2004, Healthgrades, a for-profit hospital-rating agency, published a Medicare patient safety study analyzing all 50 states and the District of Columbia across a three-year period (from 2000–2002). Medicare patients, exclusive of obstetrical cases, made up about 45 percent of admissions. The study showed 195,000 deaths per year from error. The dangerous and deadly consequences of medical errors are obvious, but an additional point of concern is the unnecessary cost to society. In this particular study, patient safety incidents cost the Medicare system an additional $8.54 billion. These medical malpractice wrongful deaths ranked ahead of diabetes, pneumonia, Alzheimer’s, and renal disease on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention list of killers.

Medical Error
Medical Error

Unfortunately, since that 2004 study, things have only gotten worse. The Office of Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services studied hospitalized Medicare patients in 2008. Unexpected adverse events impacted about one in seven patients, and caused 15,000 deaths per month. About 44 percent of the events were likely or clearly preventable. Medicare was burdened by an additional $324 million per month in costs, mostly from lengthened hospital stays.

Four Common Medical Errors:

  1. Medication Errors – The wrong drug, the wrong dose, a bad medical combination, an allergic reaction, and so many other adverse events can happen after a patient is given the wrong medication. An estimated 3 million people are injured every year because of medication errors. A newer study found medical errors occur during almost half of all surgeries analyzed.
  2. Infections – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 1 out of every 25 hospital patients will contract an infection. These infections can be caused by anything from a lack of hand washing to infections at the sites of central lines, catheters, and ventilators.
  3. Errors During Pregnancy and Childbirth – Fetal injuries can include brain damage, bone fractures, and nerve problems and often occur during delivery.
  4. Misdiagnosis – When doctors do not correctly diagnose a patient’s medical problems, the missed or delayed diagnosis can be fatal because they leave the patient’s true ailments untreated.

How Do I Know If A Medical Error Caused My Loved One’s Injury or Death?

Medical malpractice can be caused by many different actions and in many different health care settings. Not every situation in which something goes wrong with one’s medical care can be classified as medical malpractice. Medical negligence occurs when a doctor provides substandard care to a patient, and fails to provide the type and level of care that a prudent, local, similarly skilled and educated doctor would provide in similar circumstances.

If the patient’s condition is untreatable or merely gets worse, the situation may not rise to the level of malpractice. Since medical malpractice cases rely on complex data, you may want to discuss your case with a Philadelphia malpractice attorney at Lopez McHugh LLP. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.