Medical Mistakes Are Killing Us in Droves

May 24, 2016 | Crandall & Pera Law
Medical Mistakes Are Killing Us in Droves

251,454: that is the number of fatal medical errors committed each year in America. That number comes from a new study published in the BMJ, which finds that only heart disease and cancer are more deadly than doctors in this country.

The lead researcher is Martin Makary, a professor of surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He told the Washington Post “that the category [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent="yes" overflow="visible"][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type="1_1" background_position="left top" background_color="" border_size="" border_color="" border_style="solid" spacing="yes" background_image="" background_repeat="no-repeat" padding="" margin_top="0px" margin_bottom="0px" class="" id="" animation_type="" animation_speed="0.3" animation_direction="left" hide_on_mobile="no" center_content="no" min_height="none"][of medical errors] includes everything from bad doctors to more systemic issues such as communication breakdowns when patients are handed off from one department to another;” or, to put it even more succinctly, “It boils down to people dying from the care that they receive rather than the disease for which they are seeking care."

If you need a minute to digest that last statement, we understand; it is a bitter pill to swallow. Doctors are supposed to make us well. Instead, it seems they’re killing us – literally – through their negligence.

It could be even worse

It could be a LOT worse, in fact. CNN reports that these estimates may be far lower than the real number, which does not include deaths that occur in nursing homes or personal homes, because death certificates are not asking for that information. “Currently the cause of death listed on the certificate has to line up with an insurance billing code. Those codes do not adequately capture human error or system factors.” In other words, is a patient goes into cardiac arrest and dies as a result of a doctor’s mistake, the death certificate will only list “cardiac arrest” as the cause of death. There is no indication that an error played any role in that death at all.

Dr. Makary believes that hospitals do not understand the full scope of the issue, and that is why so little is being done to prevent these mistakes. He offers a few solutions to curb this problem:

  1. Fund more studies on medical errors to see the real scope of the issue.

  2. Invest in medical technologies and innovations (like barcodes on surgical instruments) that could decrease the number of errors.

  3. Leave a space on death certificates that indicate when an error occurred that directly or indirectly led to the death of a patient. (He also wants to ensure that doctors are protected from lawsuits, which is to be expected; he is, after all, a doctor.)

The BMJ study also lists three steps to decrease the number of unnecessarily deaths from medical errors: “making errors more visible when they occur so their effects can be intercepted; having remedies at hand to rescue patients; and making errors less frequent by following principles that take human limitations into account.”

Something must be done to put an end to these mistakes once and for all. We understand that doctors are people, and people make mistakes – but without any real accountability, there is no incentive for hospitals to taker a good, hard look at the problem, and implement strategies designed to end it.

If you or your family member has been a victim of medical malpractice in Ohio or Kentucky, Crandall & Pera Law may be able to help. Our experienced team of attorneys has the skills and resources necessary to protect the rights and futures of those who have been harmed by medical negligence. Please contact us to find out more about what we can do for you.

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