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Report: Research shows medical mistakes are a leading cause of death

According to the findings of one study, medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the U.S.

People in Pennsylvania and elsewhere may require medical treatment to aid with ongoing conditions or with acute ailments and injuries. When they go in to receive such care, few expect to fall victim to medical mistakes and suffer worsened medical condition. According to a recent report, however, research has shown medical errors to be one of the leading causes of death in America.

Common medical mistakes

Although there are protocols aimed at limiting errors, there are a number of medical mistakes that frequently occur in various health care settings. Some of the most common of these include the following:

  • Administering the wrong medication
  • Giving the wrong medication dosage
  • Failing to monitor a patient's vital signs
  • Using defective or contaminated equipment

Surgical errors, such as performing the wrong procedure, operating on the wrong body part or patient, or mistakenly leaving a foreign object inside of a patient also commonly occur.

Analyzing the medical death rate

When medical mistakes occur, it may have life-threatening implications for patients. A group of patient safety experts from The Johns Hopkins University conducted a study in order to better understand how medical errors contribute to causes of death in the U.S. For the study, Johns Hopkins Medicine reported that the researchers analyzed data from four other medical death rate studies that were conducted between 2000 and 2008. They then used hospital admission rates from 2013 to deduce the number of deaths resulting from medical errors.

Medical mistakes are a leading cause of death

Based on their findings, the researchers suggest that medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the U.S. Through their extrapolation, they determined that 251,454 deaths in 2013 were the result of doctor errors. During that same year, only heart disease and cancer caused more deaths. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 614,348 people died as a result of heart disease and 591,699 died due to cancer in 2013.

Due to the methods the CDC uses for classifying medical errors and collecting national health statistics, medical-related fatalities are not adequately tracked. In an effort to bring awareness to the issue, the study's researchers are pushing the CDC to update the criteria used to classify causes of death on death certificates.

Seeking legal counsel

Patients in Pennsylvania who are victims of negligence may suffer worsened conditions or death as a result of medical mistakes. Consequently, they may lose income and incur undue medical expenses, which may further burden them and their families. Thus, people who have experienced such situations may benefit from consulting with a legal representative. A lawyer may help them determine whether their health care provider may be held liable for their damages, and explain their options for pursuing compensation.

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