Mistakes by medical professionals kill more people than anything other than heart disease and cancer, according to a 2016 report by John Hopkins Medicine. That is worrying, considering doctors are the people you seek out when you are ill.
The study urged a rethink on how medical errors are reported. There is currently no option to record a medical error as the cause of death on a death certificate. So when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) compiles its statistics on fatalities each year, medical errors fail to figure. The report suggests medical errors account for around a quarter of a million deaths in the country each year, making them the third most significant killer of Americans.
What is a medical error?
John Hopkins Medicine defines four types of medical errors:
- Misdiagnoses: You are unlikely to get better if the doctor is treating you for the wrong thing. The window for successful treatment can be small, and it is vital that medics get it right the first time. Treatments for other medicines can also be harmful to the wrong patient.
- System defects: Failure to have adequate systems and checks in place allows for errors to creep in or crucial patient information to fall between the cracks.
- Preventable adverse events: Medical staff must consider what could go wrong and have measures in place to deal with those potential scenarios.
- Errors of judgment, skill, or coordination of care: Everyone can make a mistake. Hospitals need to ensure the staff checks each other’s decisions to catch mistakes.
What should I do if someone in my family has suffered due to a medical error?
Medical malpractice claims allow people to seek compensation when they or family members have suffered harm due to the errors made by medical establishments or their staff. These cases are complicated to bring. You will require legal help to investigate the cause and compile evidence to support your claim.