Medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States as suggested by a recent study.  Medical negligence now trails heart disease and cancer.  Lapses in medical care now surpass respiratory disorders, accidents, strokes, diabetes, pneumonia, kidney disease, Alzheimer’s and suicides. This has been reported by the National Center for Health Statistics, BMJ.


A professor of surgery at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine was the leading researcher of this study. He concluded that everything from “bad doctors to more systemic issues such as communication breakdowns when patients are handed off from one department to another” aided in the upswing of medical error deaths.


At present the Center for Disease Control and Prevention does not require reporting of errors in the data it collects about death through billing codes. This results in some information being hidden within the data. The researchers who conducted this study also suggest that the CDC should “update its vital statistics reporting requirements.” By making doctors and hospital responsible for reporting any error that led to a preventable death, the numbers would more accurately reflect true causes of death.


Some families request autopsies when loved ones pass away. Sometimes the hospitals conduct these autopsies, but often they do not if the patient was under the care of a physician at the time of death. At that point if someone is suffering from a chronic or debilitating illness, that illness would be listed as the primary cause of death ignoring any potential negligence on the part of the medical staff. For example: if a patient being treated for heart disease suddenly dies during a “routine” outpatient procedure, regardless of what happened in the operating room, the cause of death will more than likely be listed as heart disease.  The family will not know if there was negligence which cause the death.


The article in support of this post can be read HERE.


Renee Boston is a Maryland medical malpractice attorney who helps people navigate the Maryland childbirth injury and medical malpractice process to get money for their injuries caused by the carelessness of doctors and hospitals.