Over the past couple of years, several reports have surfaced indicating the large number of medical errors that occur every year in the United States. An article published by CNBC in February 2018, highlights how recent data is causing advocates to push for patient safety. Let’s take a look at what recent data says about medical errors, and what this information could mean for you and your family.
Medical Error Data
According to researchers from Johns Hopkins, over 250,000 people die from medical errors every year across the U.S. Other similar reports suggest that medical error-related deaths may be as high as 440,000 every year. The reason for the discrepancies in figures is the fact that more often than not, doctors, coroners, medical examiners, and funeral directors do not list human errors or system failures on death certificates. Death certificates are what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) use to gather and report on statistics and causes of death.
Last year, the CDC ranked medical errors as the third leading cause of death among Americans, falling just behind heart disease and cancer. The primary medical errors listed include:
- Inadequately skilled healthcare providers
- Errors in care or judgment
- System defects (computer breakdowns, device malfunctions, etc.)
- Preventable adverse effects
- Undiagnosed surgical complications
- Errors with type or dosage of medications
Pushing for Patient Safety
Based on the research and the fact that medical error rates have not declined significantly in recent years, advocates and researchers are pushing harder than ever for patient safety. Researchers with Johns Hopkins who reported just last month have sent letters to the CDC urging them to change the way they collect data from death certificates.
Currently, the CDC gathers cause of death information related to morbid conditions, diseases, and injuries. Researchers believe that changes to the way that data is collected, and the type of data collected, would help better identify areas of needed improvement in the healthcare system. Further, it would help improve reliability and quality of healthcare facilities around the country.
A variety of health organizations are advocating for increased patient safety, with the development of tools to better manage care and involve patients in the care process. Electronic records and charting is a consistently growing area of technology that is providing healthcare providers with options to better monitor, document, and oversee patient care.
While these efforts are certainly needed, and advocates commendable, a real shift in how medical errors are identified and documented is needed to improve patient safety and reduce the number of preventable deaths.
What You Can Do
One of the best ways to protect yourself from medical errors is to understand the real risks and empower yourself. Be your own best advocate. Research your doctors, understand your diagnosis and treatment options, and be actively involved throughout the treatment process. Anytime you feel that an error has been made, or that you have received substandard care, make it a point to speak up and demand answers.
If you need help understanding your rights or standing up against medical errors or negligence, contact Daic Law to speak with our medical malpractice attorney. At Daic Law, we understand the impact of medical errors on you and your family, and we are dedicated to protecting your legal rights and getting the justice you deserve. Call us at (713) 808-5246, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.