Medical Errors Identified as a Major Cause of Death

Doctor's ErrorA new study, published by the BMJ (formerly the British Medical Journal) identifies that medical errors are now possibly the third most prominent cause of death in the United States. Medical errors claim more lives than stroke, accidents, respiratory disease and Alzheimer’s in a given year. Medical errors are identified as anything from doctor negligence to issues associated with the hospital processes and systems (like errors in communication between departments).

Although there has been more and more attention brought to the issue of patient care over the years, such has not always been the case. In 1999, a report identifying the vast amount of medical errors called them an epidemic, which surprised those in the medical field and led to a debate about how to address the issue. That report was based on one study that estimated deaths due to medical errors to be as high as 98,000 per year. Another report, done between the years 2000 and 2008 estimated it to be closer to 700 deaths per day. That would account for about 9.5% of all deaths in the United States in any given year. This later report was completed to further expose the issues of medical malpractice that many facilities try to avoid discussing.

Hospitals and health-care facilities often attempt to avoid talking about these medical errors, and that is likely what contributes to a lack of improvement in the situation. Although medical facilities and doctors will talk about the importance of patient safety and the protocols that exist to avoid errors, hospitals and health care facilities do not generally share real statistics or examples of those errors. Furthermore, the Center for Disease Control does not require any reporting of deaths due to error, which enables a facility to keep this information private and makes it difficult to identify how these errors impact the country on a national scale.

Although those in the medical field understand this to be an important issue, there is little open dialogue on the subject. The high variability of processes and practices between hospitals makes it difficult to identify the sources of the errors so that work on implementing proper controls and solutions can advance. In addition, each hospital keeps their error information confidential, so that hospitals do not benefit from the experiences of others.

In addition to deaths due to medical errors, lesser patient injuries due to doctor and hospital error are another area that tends to be ignored, with likely contributes to a much larger but hidden occurrence rate. For obvious reasons, medical providers and hospitals in Chicago and across the state of Illinois have no real intention of sharing such potentially damaging negligence information. Doctors, surgeons and the medical facilities that they are associated with do not wish to be sued for medical malpractice as their insurance rates will likely rise and in some cases, they may be held personally responsible for the money damages which follow.

If you or a loved one has experienced an injury, or a loved one has died due to medical error, the Chicago medical malpractice attorneys associated with Mitchell S. Sexner & Associates LLC may be able to help you. Despite the wall of silence that medical providers in Chicago and elsewhere have erected to hide their negligence and mistakes, our experienced attorneys provide aggressive representation to uncover these errors and bring justice to those injured. Call us at (312) 644-0444 to learn how we can help you.

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