It’s a scary fact, but fatal medical errors are on the rise. According to a John Hopkins study, it is estimated that 250,000 people in this nation die every year due to medical mistakes. Alarmingly, medical errors are now one of the leading causes of death in America. Based on this new statistic, researchers are claiming that fatal medical errors should be listed as the third most common cause of death on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s annual list, right after heart disease and cancer.
Researchers say that not all of these medical errors are the result of bad doctors. Instead, they caution that most errors are caused from various problems including surgical errors, medication mix-ups, and even breakdowns in communication. Here are some of the most common causes of fatal medical errors:
- Diagnostic errors. Failing to order the appropriate diagnostic test is one of the most common reasons diagnosing errors occur. This type of error sometimes happens because doctors aren’t thorough in their evaluations and perform inadequate physical examinations, and other times they just use poor judgment. Another cause of diagnostic errors is failing to accurately interpret a diagnostic test or laboratory test. This type of error occurs when doctors read the report wrong or mix up patients’ results. Sometimes it’s not the doctor who causes an error with diagnostic tests. It could be the lab technician or another medical worker who interpreted the information incorrectly.
- Treatment errors. This type of medical mistake commonly occurs from medication errors. Things like selecting the wrong medication or administering the wrong dose of medication to a patient leads to errors in treatment. Also, this type of medical error happens when there is a delay in treatment, a mistake during surgery, or a failure to perform a medically necessary procedure.
- Breakdowns. Many medical mistakes occur as a result of poor protocols, ineffective workflows, bad processes, long shifts, understaffed emergency rooms, poor work environments, lack of communication, and poorly coordinated care.
Any number of things could go wrong in caring for a patient due to negligence on the part of a doctor, nurse, other healthcare worker, or hospital. If you believe your loved one died as a result of a medical error, you need to speak with an attorney as soon as possible. Our law firm has successfully handled medical malpractice and wrongful death cases, and we would be honored to review your case in a free consultation.