Medical errors can often be fatal

Medical errors are a leading cause of death in Arizona and across the U.S., according to a study. Further, the authors of the study say that they are on a mission to inform Americans about the depth of the problem.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University found that more than 250,000 people died from preventable medical errors in 2013, which would have made it one of the three leading causes of fatalities in that year. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officially listed respiratory disease as the third leading killer of Americans in 2013, with 149,205 deaths. The researchers say that the CDC’s failure to account for medical error deaths means that fewer research dollars are allocated to preventing the problem.

According to the authors of the study, most preventable medical mistakes occur due to doctor error, diagnostic mistakes, preventable adverse effects and system failures. Patient advocates say that the best way for patients to protect themselves from medical errors is to find a doctor who looks them in the eye, asks personal questions and expresses concern for their health. Experts also point out that patients have the right to seek a second opinion and decline any treatments that make them uncomfortable.

Not every medical error constitutes medical malpractice. An attorney representing a patient who has been harmed will have to demonstrate that the error constituted a failure on the part of the health care practitioner or facility to exhibit the required standard of care. The attorney will use the opinion testimony of one or more medical experts in this regard.

Source: The Public Opinion, “Medical mistakes kill more Americans than strokes, Alzheimer’s“, Jennifer Graham, July 25, 2017