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Thursday, June 23, 2016
Medical Mistakes May be a Leading Cause of Death
Why aren’t medical errors currently listed as a leading cause of death?
A recent study by Johns Hopkins Medicine indicated that medical errors, currently not included in reporting by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), are the third leading cause of death in the United States. The authors of the study are urging the CDC to immediately add medical errors to its annual reporting of the top causes of death.
There are a wide range of medical mistakes that can lead to death including a misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose a medical condition, surgical errors or complications, and prescription mistakes. These errors, according to the study, result in over 250,000 deaths every year. By comparison, heart disease and cancer were each the cause of 600,000 deaths in 2014, while respiratory disease resulted in 150,000 deaths in the same year.
Why are Medical Errors Not Being Reported?
According to some observers, the CDC instructs doctors to only list medical conditions as the cause of death, and its coding system does not account for medical mistakes whether diagnostic errors, poor judgment or communication breakdowns. However, the CDC notes that complications arising from medical treatment are listed on death certificate, but only the condition that was being treated is listed as the underlying cause of death.
As a result, the public is not aware of the impact of medical errors, and the authors of the study are calling for death certificates to specifically ask if a complication that could have been prevented contributed to the death. The failure to report medical errors ultimately hinders research that could be helpful in reducing the number of deaths by providing more resources aimed at patient safety.
Ultimately, whether the study will prompt the CDC to include medical errors on its annual list of the leading causes of death remains to be seen. In the meantime, preventable medical mistakes will continue to results in injuries or death. If you or a loved one was injured by a doctor’s error, you may have grounds for a malpractice lawsuit, and a personal injury attorney can help you obtain the compensation you deserve.