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Avoidable Medical Errors Now Considered Third Leading Cause of Death in America

March 6, 2016  ·  By HM&M

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When people get sick, they visit their doctor to get better. When they are critically ill, they go to a hospital for treatment. But are doctors actually doing more harm than good? Evidence from the prestigious Journal of Patient Safety would certainly suggest as much. Published nearly two decades after the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) concerning report, To Err is Human, this new study indicates that people are not just dying by the very hands that are supposed to heal them; they are dying in significantly higher numbers than previously thought.

Preventable Deaths Now Third Leading Cause of Death

Using medical studies that were published between 2008 and 2011, researchers with Patient Safety America examined the occurrence of five commonly made medical mistakes: diagnostic errors, errors of commission, errors of context, errors of omission, and errors of communication. Overall, these mistakes caused as many as 440,000 deaths each and every year. That makes it the third leading cause of death in America, placing it beneath only heart disease and cancer.

New Figures Four Times Higher than IOM’s

In comparison to the IOM study, the Patient Safety American study shows four times the number of patients in America die because of preventable medical errors. To put those numbers into perspective, Chicago, Illinois has a population of approximately 2.719 million people. In a single year, doctors and hospitals kill nearly one-fourth of those people. Cities like Miami, which has a population of 417,650 would be completely obliterated.

America Should be Outraged

These people are not dying because of their illnesses; their deaths are caused because of contaminated equipment, failure to communicate known drug allergies, overdoses, infections. And the magnitude of these seemingly insignificant mistakes are causing as much destruction in a year as a major catastrophe – a tsunami, an earthquake, a tornado typically causes fewer deaths. And yet no one is really talking about it. But they should be.

“Accidents” and errors like these are completely preventable. They can be managed. And, while yes, it requires that every employee precisely and effectively follow all policies and procedures, it is completely doable. But it will not happen until there is a stand taken against the lobbyists who hide error rates and the politicians who make it even harder for those injured to seek compensation through ridiculous tort reform policies. It will not happen unless Americans force justice.

Our Malpractice Attorneys Take a Stand for Justice

We believe that doctors and other healthcare professionals should be held responsible for their actions. Committed to justice, we provide our clients with aggressive representation, more than 75 years of combined experience and knowledge, and extensive resources to help them in their pursuit of fair compensation. Ask how we can help with your case by scheduling your free initial consultation with our skilled Chicago medical malpractice attorneys.


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