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Study Looks at Dangers of Medical Errors

Medical ErrorA recent study by conducted by researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine has led to a shocking conclusion, as its results suggest that more than 250,000 Americans die each year from medical errors. According to their research, medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States. Only cancer and heart disease kill more people than medical mistakes do.

The study draws attention to inadequacies in the medical community’s ability to track vital statistics. The study was led by Dr. Martin Makary, who, along with many other medical experts, believes that changes need to be made to the way patient deaths are recorded. In a letter to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Makary and others encourage the CDC to add “medical errors” to its annual list reporting the top causes of death.

Common medical mistakes include:

  • Misdiagnosis: Doctors are humans, and just like professionals in any other occupation, they sometimes make mistakes. Sometimes a doctor misinterprets a patient’s symptoms and diagnoses the patient with the wrong condition. This can result in delayed or incorrect treatment, which is sometimes deadly.
  • Unnecessary tests or treatment: People with a health concern often must endure a battery of tests in order for doctors to understand the problem. While these tests can be extremely helpful, they can also cause damage to the patient’s body. For example, CT scans expose a patient’s body to radiation, which increases their lifetime risk of cancer. This is not to say that patients should never have these tests done, but it is important to confirm that they are necessary before engaging in superfluous tests.
  • Medication errors: Studies have shown that over 60% of hospitalized patients miss a dose of their regular medication while staying at the hospital. Sometimes doctors, nurses, or other medical staff simply forget to give the patient their medicine or give them the wrong medicine.
  • Infections: Infections such as pneumonia and blood infections contracted while staying in a hospital affect 1.7 million people every year. Bacterial infections can be especially dangerous to those with weakened immune systems.

The exact toll taken by medical errors is not clear. Because the CDC's published mortality statistics usually record the condition that led a person to seek treatment as the cause of death, many deaths caused by medical mistakes are not accounted for as such. Dr. Makary and other medical experts hope to improve this shortcoming in the future.

Have You Been Affected by a Medical Mistake?

It is important to understand that a medical mistake may not always rise to the level of negligence or malpractice. Some cases are complex enough that nearly any medical professional could have made the same error. If you or a loved one has been injured or has died as the result of a medical mistake, a dedicated San Jose medical malpractice lawyer can help you determine if you have a cause for legal action. Contact us at (408) 289-1417 and schedule a free consultation to discuss your options today.

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My experience with Attorney Brad Corsiglia during my recent medical malpractice case was nothing short of amazing given the very stressful circumstances. I was fortunate to find Brad highly recommended from a mutual contact and from the very beginning of the process, Brad was truly engaged and knowledgeable in understanding my case and providing input on what avenues were available to me. Michelle M.