Medical Errors Are A Leading Cause Of Death For American Patients
Every day, scores of patients are admitted to hospitals for various issues and ailments. Moreover, not all of them are fortunate enough to recover and get discharged from the hospital. Often, a minor mistake on the part of a doctor or technician can have drastic effects, even pushing the patient closer to death.
A 2016 study by Johns Hopkins patient safety experts throws light on the issue of medical errors as a leading cause of death in the US. Based on research data from an 8 year period, it mentions that medical errors cause over 250,000 deaths every year in the US.
These figures show the poor condition of patient safety protocols in hospitals across the country. On the other hand, this also makes it more important for patients to take steps to protect themselves from such life-threatening mistakes.
Deaths Due To Medical Errors Are Common In The US
The aforementioned study suggests that medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the US, surpassed only by heart disease and cancer. But this is not the only study analyzing the medical records in the country. Other studies have found that the number of patients dying from preventable medical mistakes is close to 440,000 annually.
A comparison of the figures from the two studies shows a large discrepancy, the main reason of which lies in the manner of declaration of death.
Usually, doctors, medical examiners, and the like do not note human or system errors as the cause in death certificates. And since these certificates are the basis on which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ascertain the figures, the statistics fail to show the actual number of deaths caused by such mistakes.
This is an important issue that needs immediate attention, and the Johns Hopkins patient safety experts have appealed to the Centers to restructure the ways in which data is collected from death certificates. The changes are yet to be made.
How Can You Insure Your Safety?
While as a patient you may not have a solid understanding of medicines or medical equipment, asking questions is necessary. If you feel that something isn’t right, or that the treatment plan doesn’t sound too good, don’t be afraid to stop and ask. You can even opt for a second opinion if necessary.
Ask a friend or family member to accompany you. Not only will this help in case you fail to understand a specific point, but the companion can also ask relevant questions that help you form a clear idea of the treatment plan.
Moreover, you need to fully grasp your medical information – the issues you suffer from, the medications you take, etc. Mistakes may be common, but as a patient, you need to have some control over the treatment you are receiving in order to reduce the risk.
Medical mistakes and the ensuing fatalities need to be checked through the use of advanced technology as well as a bit of effort from those associated with the medical profession. Otherwise, the number of easily preventable premature deaths in the US may show a further rise.
For those suffering from such mistakes, appealing to the law is still an option. For example, if you are a Portland resident and have lost a close person to such unfortunate errors, you can consult a Portland wrongful death attorney to take legal action against the concerned hospital.