Recent Studies Reveal Medical Errors are the Third Leading Cause of Death

Woman helping elderly man

According to recent studies, medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States. They account for approximately 251,000 deaths every year, equating to 700 deaths every day. Medical errors in Illinois hospitals, nursing homes and long-term care facilities are common reasons for medical malpractice claims filed with an Illinois medical malpractice lawyer.

Hidden Medical Errors

Many hospitals and medical facilities are aware that medical errors in the U.S. account for almost 10 percent of yearly deaths. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) coding system, used to record hospital and medical facility deaths, only records the underlying cause of death.  It does not record medical errors related to misdiagnosis, communication errors, or negligence caused by hospitals, medical facilities or medical professionals including physicians, nurses, paramedics, dentists, chiropractors and pharmacists. According to statistics, if deaths from medical errors were documented by the CDC coding system, they would outnumber deaths from accidents, strokes, and respiratory diseases, ranking only below deaths from heart disease and cancer.

Medical Malpractice and Negligent Care

Medical malpractice is a type of lawsuit that’s based on medical negligence. According to medical standards, health care facilities and professionals owe patients a duty of care while performing acts that could potentially cause harm. To establish a valid medical malpractice claim through an Illinois medical malpractice lawyer, a plaintiff must show that a medical facility or professional failed to meet the standard duty of care and negligent care caused injuries. In many cases, breach of duty or negligent care can be difficult to prove when:

  • Multiple health care providers provider patient care
  • More than one medical professional treated the patient
  • There is more than one cause of injury

According to the National Patient Safety Foundation, almost 50 percent of surgeries performed in U.S. hospitals are associated with medication errors. Medications most frequently pointed out are:

  • Propofol – A common sedative used in operating rooms
  • Fentanyl – A strong pain medication often given to patients after surgery
  • Phenylephrine – A medication given to increase blood pressure in surgery patients with very low blood pressure

Among the most frequent medication errors reported to an Illinois medical malpractice lawyer are labeling mistakes, improper dosages, and missed or omitted medications that should have been given. More than one-third of these observed errors reportedly caused serious injuries to patients.