Study: Medical Malpractice Third Leading Cause of Death In the United States

070810-N-8848W-028 PACIFIC OCEAN (Aug. 10, 2007) - Lt. Cmdr. Angela Powell, an otolaryngologist assisted by Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Daniel Vogel a surgical technician, performs surgery aboard the Military Sealift Command (MSC) hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20). Comfort is on a four-month humanitarian deployment to Latin America and the Caribbean providing medical treatment to patients in a dozen countries. U.S. Navy photo by Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Jean A. Wertman (RELEASED)

070810-N-8848W-028PACIFIC OCEAN (Aug. 10, 2007) – Lt. Cmdr. Angela Powell, an otolaryngologist assisted by Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Daniel Vogel a surgical technician, performs surgery aboard the Military Sealift Command (MSC) hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20). Comfort is on a four-month humanitarian deployment to Latin America and the Caribbean providing medical treatment to patients in a dozen countries. U.S. Navy photo by Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Jean A. Wertman (RELEASED)

We are conditioned from a very young age to trust what our doctors tell us.  We know that they go to school for a very long time.  They are highly trained.  They are highly intelligent.  They understand how to treat patients.  The vast majority of doctors out there do an impeccable job of treating their patients.  Unfortunately, it appears that more doctors than previously thought make not only mistakes, but fatal mistakes.  That’s the conclusion drawn by a recently published study.  While we should still listen to our doctors, the data presented by this study may prompt some people to ask more questions of them in the future.  We should also scrutinize the overall quality of care provided in medical centers.  Medical malpractice is real, and it’s more prevalent than perhaps anyone may have thought until now.

About the Study

The study was done by researchers at Johns Hopkins University.  One of the reasons for the study is because medical malpractice or medical error are not terms that are listed on death certificates in the United States.  These researchers wanted to attempt to quantify these risks.  The study was published by the BMJ, formerly known as the British Medical Journal.  A link to an introduction to the study can be found here (subscription required).

The researchers conducted their work by reviewing four different previous studies that had attempted to put a statistic behind the number of deaths occurring because of medical malpractice.  What they found was stunning.  Below are the leading causes of death to Americans on an annual basis, based on the calculations completed by the researchers:

  1. Heart disease – 614,338
  2. Cancer – 591,699
  3. Medical error – 251,454
  4. Respiratory disease – 147,101
  5. Accidents – 136,053
  6. Stroke – 133,103
  7. Alzheimer’s disease – 93,541
  8. Diabetes – 76,488
  9. Flu/pneumonia – 55,227
  10. Kidney disease – 48,146

That means that medical malpractice kills more people in the United States every year than car accidents, strokes, diabetes, gunshots and many other things that we see covered regularly in the media.  Other medical experts suggest that as many as 40 times the number of people who are killed by medical malpractice every year could be seriously injured because of these mistakes.  That would equate to approximately 10 million people per year.  That’s roughly three times the population of San Diego County and about the same number of people as there are residents in Los Angeles County.

San Diego Medical Malpractice Lawyers

These numbers are staggering.  That’s why the medical profession, like every other profession, needs to be held accountable when mistakes are made that leave people seriously or permanently injured or dead.  Families need somewhere to turn when these situations arise.  Unfortunately, families who suddenly find themselves grieving the loss of a loved one are often met with any attempt to obtain justice by highly skilled defense attorneys who work for large insurance companies.  This is no time to attempt to take on corporate entities alone.  Instead, if you or someone you love has been harmed as a result of this type of egregious mistake, contact the San Diego medical malpractice lawyers at Gomez Trial Attorneys today to schedule a free initial consultation.

Posted in: Pedestrian Accidents, Wrongful Death
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