The Cassidy Law Firm Blog

Friday, April 19, 2019

Medical Errors are a Leading Cause of Death in the United States

A Johns Hopkins study published some scary and surprising statistics about medical mistakes in the United States healthcare system. The study revealed that more than 250,000 people in the U.S. die each year due to medical error. This puts medical error as the third leading cause of death outranked only by heart disease and cancer. Other studies have shown even greater numbers of death caused by medical mistake, but it is difficult to come up with just one number everyone agrees on because human error is rarely listed on a death certificate. This is a problem because the Center for Disease Control (CDC) uses death certificates to generate an annual cause of death statistics.

In fact, the authors of the Johns Hopkins study have petitioned the CDC asking them to change the way they calculate mortality statistics. Right now, only causes of death that occur due to disease, terminal conditions, and other injuries are counted. Only the medical condition that brought a person to seek medical treatment will be listed as a cause of death. The human error involved in the treating of that condition that led to the death of the patient is not counted. Because the CDC is not generating statistics that accurately reflect the climate of the dangers in the healthcare system, medical errors are not getting access to the funding needed to properly address this major problem. It also means that the problem is not getting the attention it needs. The public should be aware of these kinds of dangers.

What Kind of Medical Errors Are Causing So Many Deaths?

The Johns Hopkins study defines a death caused by medical error as one that was the result of things such as:

  • Inadequately skilled staff members
  • Judgment errors
  • Errors in care
  • System defects

These problems include things like technological issues or prescription errors such as wrong prescription type or dosage. When a medical care facility is not running smoothly, staff are not properly trained or staff members are performing medical care measure outside their areas of expertise and above their skill levels, then patients can greatly suffer.

What Can I do to Protect Myself?

It is alarming to read things like this. We go to hospitals and urgent care facilities to feel better. The thought that we could suffer mortal consequences for trying to access the care we need to improve our health induces a level of anxiety that we do not need when we think of our health care system. While news of this pervasive problem hiding in plain sight gains more attention. Be aware of the steps you can take to protect yourself.

Being well informed is a great safety measure to take when accessing health care. Be a knowledgeable consumer in the health care arena. Never be afraid to ask you medical provider questions. Ask follow-up questions. Ask about the disadvantages associated with a particular medication or medical procedure. Seek out a second opinion, especially before considering particularly invasive procedures. Bring a trusted friend or family member to your appointments to help you advocate for yourself. It is also a good idea to have a second pair of ears to hear what the doctor is telling you and get a different perspective on things. Sometimes we can get overwhelmed in a doctor’s office seeking treatment for a medical issue we are experiencing. Another person can provide an outsider perspective for you.

New Jersey Medical Malpractice Legal Counsel Fighting for You.

Medical errors form the basis for medical malpractice claims. If you or someone you loved has needlessly suffered due to a lapse inadequate health care, contact The Cassidy Law Firm. We advocate for the residents of Shrewsbury and Monmouth County. Contact us today.


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