Medical Error Death Facts
Preventable medical errors are now the third leading cause of death in the United States, with only heart disease and cancer claiming more lives. At least 400,000 people each year die due to preventable medical errors, or more than 1,000 people per day. In addition, these errors are estimated to cost the United States about $1 trillion each year.
What Are Preventable Medical Errors?
In the medical community, medical errors are termed “never events” because they should never occur if proper procedures are followed. In addition to the more than 1,000 deaths each day, there are also at least 10,000 serious complications resulting from errors in procedure, medication or other causes. Surgical errors, failure to diagnose disease or failure to prescribe the right medication for a patient are all types of “never events” that occur every day in doctor’s offices, hospitals and health clinics.
These errors lead to pain, suffering and loss for victims. In addition, they lead to problems for doctors, nurses and others in the medical profession who may be named as defendants in medical malpractice lawsuits or suffer higher malpractice insurance rates, even if they are not directly responsible for these injuries.
How Can These Medical Errors Be Stopped?
How to stop preventable errors in patient treatment has been the subject of many studies, most of which have come to one common conclusion: information technology meant to support the medical profession in delivering quality care has fallen short in many ways.
Despite the heavy investment in technology, the medical field has not seen the improvements in productivity or patient safety that these investments would seem to promise. For example, the use of electronic health records was endorsed by many experts as a way to improve access to important patient information for healthcare professionals. However, the lack of use of these records or misunderstandings in how they provide information has led instead to some serious patient care mistakes.
One of the most important and common preventable errors involves delayed or missed diagnoses resulting from failure to order appropriate testing or to follow up after initial exams. IT systems should be helping doctors to keep up with diagnostic procedures; instead, they have not been shown to improve these protocols. In fact, some systems may lead to even more errors, when medical providers are confused by the technology or do not know how to use it correctly.
Who Is Responsible for Medical Errors?
Ultimately, the responsibility for medical errors and problems rests with the health care professionals who perform these procedures. Even when these professionals have access to technology to help them do their jobs, they are still responsible for taking the time to provide quality care to every patient. When they fail to do so, a medical malpractice lawsuit may result.
A malpractice lawsuit is filed when a patient suffers injury due to the actions or failure to act of a medical professional such as a doctor, nurse or other provider. These lawsuits may be filed against individuals or against institutions such as hospitals, and may seek compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering and other losses associated with a medical injury.
If you have been the victim of medical malpractice, including medication errors, surgical errors or failure to diagnose diseases, contact a personal injury attorney at David & Philpot, P.L. for help.