Medical Errors Are Third Leading Cause of Death

Mar 11, 2015
by The Atkins & Markoff Team

Medical Errors Are Third Leading Cause of Death

Most people in the U.S. either know someone who has been the victim of a medical error or have personal experience with this. Perhaps shockingly, medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States. Only cancer and heart disease kill more Americans. This statistic may come as a surprise to many, as doctors and other healthcare professionals are the people we must trust in the event of a medical emergency. Here at Atkins & Markoff, our personal injury lawyers have represented people throughout Oklahoma in cases involving medical malpractice or negligence.

The Facts

According to a recent hospital study, approximately 440,000 Americans die each year as a result of preventable hospital errors. This highlights the importance of patients needing to protect themselves and their loved ones from harm, as well as how imperative it is for hospitals to make patient safety a priority. Unfortunately, more people die from medical mistakes than they do from car accidents, pneumonia, and diabetes. While it is true that doctors are humans like the rest of us and are not perfect, the majority of medical errors can be prevented if proper safety steps are taken.

There are numerous different types of medical errors, including the following:

  • Misdiagnosis – This is the most common type of medical mistake and can result in delay in treatment or even failure to administer treatment
  • Unnecessary Treatment – Similar to the above, when a healthcare professional administers a treatment that was never needed in the first place, it could prove deadly
  • Unnecessary Tests – Studies show that roughly $700 billion is spent every year on unnecessary tests and treatments
  • Medication Mistakes – Medication errors injure approximately 1.5 million Americans every single year and cost patients $3.5 billion
  • Uncoordinated Care – In today’s changing healthcare system, chances are you will likely see several specialists when receiving care at a hospital. As a result of this, there may be lack of coordination between the people treating you, which could end up in confusion and medical error
  • Infections – According to the Centers for Disease Control, hospital-acquired infections affect 1.7 million people each year. This could be anything from infections around the site of surgery, urinary infections for catheters, and bloodstream infections from IVs
  • Preventable Accidents – Nearly 500,000 patients fall while at the hospital, many of which occur due to malfunctioning medical devices
  • Missed Signs – In most cases, when a patient’s health gets worse, there is a period of time where there are warning signs. Disconcertingly, these warning signs are oftentimes missed by medical professionals, resulting in irreversible damage
  • Early Release – When a patient is discharged from the hospital before he or she should be, it could lead to complications or more problems down the road

These are just a few of the most common types of medical errors and some of the reasons why this preventable problem is the third leading cause of death in the U.S. If you or a loved has been the victim of negligence or error on the part of trusted medical professional, contact a medical malpractice attorney from Atkins & Markoff today.