A study recently found that over 250,000 Americans die from medical mistakes every year, making it the third-leading cause of death. Our medical malpractice lawyers have been representing victims of medical errors for 30 years. Here, we shed some light on this hotly debated issue and share what we’ve learned over the last three decades.
Why the Hot Debate?
Any number of factors can cause medical errors, from diagnostic oversights to inadequate skills. Professor Martin Makary of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine wrote the explosive paper calling out medical errors as the third-leading cause of death. He explains that medical error is not an option on death certificates, so when a patient dies from any type of medical mistake, their death certificates state “respiratory failure,” or “cardiac arrest,” rather than the actual cause of that emergency.
Death certificates are the basis for our national health statistics. When you hear or read that the number one cause of death in the U.S. is heart disease, it’s because heart disease is the most common box checked on death certificates.
This means that the number of patients dying from medical errors is not even recorded. The only places medical mistakes are recognized are in court, in nurses’ stations, and in doctors’ lounges. We have no system for collecting and reporting these statistics.