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Medical Malpractice Third Leading Cause of Death in US, Study Says


In May 2016, the John Hopkins University School of Medicine concluded an in-depth study regarding medical malpractice and how it affects people all around the country. The results were more than concerning. According to the collected data, around 250,000 people will die each year due to medical errors, malpractice, or negligence. This statistic puts it solidly as the third leading cause of death in America each year, behind cancer and heart disease but ahead of accidents, strokes, and other serious diseases.

The study was inclusive of all forms of medical malpractice. Essentially, anything that went wrong in a hospital, and probably should have been easily prevented, was counted and recorded. From surgeons performing bad operations to doctors missing diagnoses to nurses given patients the wrong medicine, everything added up to the staggering quarter-of-a-million deaths per year. The number is even more shocking when compared to a 1999 study that concluded around 98,000 deaths occurred each year from medical malpractice; that study was either missing critical information or matters have become much worse in the last 17 years. As it stands, 250,000 deaths a year would be close to 10% of all deaths in the country.

Lack of Attention, Lack of Change

Martin Makary, the professor who led the John Hopkins University study, believes the biggest problem with the high number of medical error deaths is that no one is doing much to fix it. He states the data of his study shows little to no improvement in the industry to prevent malpractice since the 1999 study conducted by the Institute of Medicine. The only real improvement, he states, regards the number of hospital-acquired infections per year, a positive change that can be attributed more to orderly and cleaning staffs than to actual doctors and physicians.

Makary suggests that a more uniform procedure for recording and reporting medical malpractice deaths is necessary. Currently, hospitals are largely unregulated when it comes to how they report fatal incidents that could be caused by medical error. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) doesn’t even track medical error deaths in hospitals, typically citing that a patient died of their symptoms or injury that brought them to the clinic in the first place.

The study also only covered deaths caused by medical malpractice. It does not indicate how many serious injuries are caused by hospital errors. Many expect this number to be much, much higher but that is a topic for another in-depth study.

For more information about the study, The Washington Post published an informative article here that may interest you. If you or a loved one has been harmed by a negligent or inexperienced physician, please do not hesitate to contact Rourke and Blumenthal LLC as soon as you can. Our Columbus medical malpractice attorneys can help you seek the compensation you need and deserve.

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