Medical Errors: 3rd Leading Cause of Death in the U.S.
Most people in this country interact with medical professionals regularly. These interactions can be between a person and their doctor or a surgeon. They can also include interactions with pharmacists, optometrists, dentists, physical therapists, and more. Unfortunately, there are times when a medical professional is careless or negligent and causes harm to a patient. According to a study from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, medical mistakes are the third leading cause of death in the United States.
These mistakes can happen in a variety of ways and can lead to significant damages. Even patients who are not killed due to a medical error can suffer from lasting disabilities and incur tremendous pain and suffering.
Unreported medical errors
Johns Hopkins researchers say that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) methods for collecting national health data fail to classify medical errors separately on death certificates properly. They use the coding system used by hospitals and other medical facilities to record a patient’s underlying cause of death.
However, this system does not keep track of medical mistakes related to many of the errors made by medical professionals, including misdiagnosis, communication errors, medication mistakes, and other negligent actions by the medical professionals or medical facilities. Researchers say that if medical mistakes were properly recorded, data would show that as many as 250,000 people a year die due to medical errors.
Negligent and careless patient care
Medical professionals and healthcare facilities owe a duty of care to their patients. They must protect them from harm while they are providing treatments and care. Medical errors are not relegated to the hospital setting. They can also occur in surgical centers, private doctors’ offices, private and public clinics, nursing homes, pharmacies, and more.
Some of the most common medical mistakes made in the United States include the following:
- unnecessary tests or treatment
- errors with medication
- delayed treatment
- inadequate follow up after treatments
- surgical and anesthesia mistakes
- uncoordinated care
- healthcare-acquired infections
Medical malpractice cases and compensation
Those who have been injured due to the careless or negligent actions of a healthcare professional or facility may be able to recover compensation through a medical malpractice lawsuit. In Illinois, there is a statute of limitations in place which places strict limits on the amount of time a victim has to file their case. The statute of limitations for medical malpractice in Illinois is two years from the date in which the plaintiff (the victim) knew or should have known about the medical mistake. Illinois state law places further limitations on medical malpractice cases by saying that no lawsuit can be brought more than four years after the date the medical mistake occurred, regardless of when the patient discovers the mistake.
There are various types of compensation available to those injured due to a medical mistake. This can include the following:
- Compensation for any medical expenses related to the error(s)
- Coverage of lost income and benefits if the victim cannot work
- Loss of enjoyment of life damages
- Pain and suffering damages
- Punitive damages against the healthcare provider and/or agency responsible
The amount of money a person can receive for a medical malpractice case will vary depending on several factors. These factors can include the severity of the patient’s injuries, the total costs of medical care required, whether the patient is disabled due to the mistake, and more.