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Medical Malpractice: A Leading Cause of Death

By John Macfarlane on September 12, 2016


Medical Malpractice: A Leading Cause of Death

Studies show medical mistakes may be the third leading cause of death, right behind heart disease and cancer, in the United States. At least 251,000 deaths occur yearly due to medical malpractice – amounting to nearly 700 deaths every day. That number would be significantly higher if it included the number of individuals injured by medical malpractice each year. The team at Younker Hyde Macfarlane has significant experience representing persons injured by medical malpractice.

Inconsistencies Reporting Deaths due to Medical Malpractice

There are inconsistencies when it comes to reporting death due to medical error. The cause of death listed on a death certificate uses codes corresponding with insurance billing codes. Insurance billing codes do not account for medical error. This causes inaccuracies when determining the numbers of deaths due to medical error. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not require reporting of the medical errors. It is likely that if death due to medical malpractice was accurately accounted for, the number would be much higher than 251,000. Hospitals are reluctant to report information regarding medical error. This may be to protect medical providers from lawsuits. However, because hospitals do not report this information, there is a lesser opportunity to fix the problems. A collection of the data regarding death due to medical error is an important piece to solving the problem.

Common Medical Errors

Often times hospitals do not realize how big of a problem medical errors are. Hospitals have successfully decreased the numbers of hospital-acquired infections since 1999. However, other medical error numbers have not improved. It has been suggested that diversity in the way health care is provided could contribute to the high number of deaths related to medical error. The failure to acknowledge this problem prevents hospitals from investing in technology that would safeguard processes in hospitals. Preventing medical error is not always a priority in hospitals.

Common medical errors may include a misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis, along with a failure to provide preventative care. Medical providers may fail to follow safety procedures and guidelines, and this can result in malpractice. Mistake may occur during operations or any other procedure, and error may result from unrecognized surgical complications. Another common problem can be an anesthesia error. Providing the wrong dosage of a medication, or the wrong medication is common mistake. A medical care provider’s inadequate follow-up treatment or ongoing monitoring can result in malpractice.

Hospitals could take steps to correct medical errors. One example of a system that would prevent medical error is placing barcodes on each piece of surgical equipment so a surgical team could account for everything at the end of surgery. Another way to prevent medical error would be to set guidelines and check lists for hand-off conversations. During shift changes in hospitals information about a patient can be miscommunicated to the new team of medical care providers. Information may be forgotten or left out during the hand-off conversation. Hospitals need to prioritize investing resources to prevent medical error.

How to Protect Yourself

You are always at risk for being the victim of medical error, but there are steps you can take to protect yourself. No protective measures will ensure you will receive proper medical treatment, and there is nothing you can do to avoid the risk of medical error. However, the following tips can reduce your odds of becoming a victim to a medical error tragedy.

·         Educate yourself by researching your medical provider and asking questions during any consultation

·         Keep notes of all medical conditions and symptoms, and provide this information to your doctors – this will help ensure an accurate diagnosis

·         Record any change you see in your symptoms over time

·         Ask a family member or friend to accompany you at your appointments

·         When going into surgery inform all doctors of medications you are taking and of any allergies you may have

·         Take notes of all meetings with any medical providers

·         Read all consent forms carefully and never sign a blank consent form.

·         Go over all the risks and benefits of a procedure with a doctor

·         Obtain second opinions when appropriate and seek doctors who specialize in your condition

·         Review medication dosages with a medical provider to ensure the dosage is correct

How an Attorney Can Help You

Given the complexity and severity of medical malpractice injuries, it is important to contact an attorney quickly if you have been injured by a medical care provider. The attorneys at Younker Hyde Macfarlane will assist you in evaluating and prosecuting all valid claims you may have.

Contact the Medical Malpractice Team at Younker Hyde Macfarlane

For more information about your legal options related to your medical malpractice injury, please contact our team of medical malpractice attorneys today. The legal team at Younker Hyde Macfarlane will fight diligently for you and your legal needs.

Tagged In: Medical Malpractice, Injury

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