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. No one expects a medical error to happen to them, but they do occur at an alarming rate. In fact, they occur far more frequently than any of us would really care to know.
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 the 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, as many as 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 that contribute to these deaths 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 have already 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 changes in how 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. There are also tools in development to better manage care and involve patients in the care process. Electronic records and charting is a consistently growing area of technology. These technologies are providing healthcare providers with options to better monitor, document, and oversee patient care.
While these efforts are certainly needed, we need a real shift in how medical errors are identified and documented 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 involve yourself throughout the treatment process. Anytime you feel that an error has been made, make it a point to speak up and demand answers. If you feel like you are being provided with substandard care, get a second opinion.
Are You Injured Due to a Medical Error?
If you need help understanding your rights or standing up against a medical error or medical 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. We are passionate about protecting your legal rights and getting the justice you deserve. Call us at 877-893-6040, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more. We offer a free consultation to every potential client, so you have nothing to lose in finding out more about your potential case.
What should you do if a medical error happens to you?