A new Johns Hopkins study establishes that medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States. The study calls on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to include medical errors in its annual list of the top causes of death in the United States.
This is not the first study that establishes the role of medical errors in causing injuries and fatalities across the country, but this study is garnering attention for two reasons. First, it is from a respected institution like Johns Hopkins. Second, the report calls on the US federal government to name medical errors as a leading cause of death in the country. That step would immediately increase awareness about the dangers patients face every year from medical negligence at hospitals and care facilities across the country.
The Johns Hopkins researchers are also calling for changes in the current system for death certification in order to better record medical errors that cause fatalities. The study estimates that there are more than 250,000 fatalities every year from medical errors. That means medical errors rank just below heart disease and cancer as the top causes of fatality in the United States. Medical errors kill more people every year than even respiratory disease.
The Johns Hopkins researchers rightly point out that the failure to list medical errors as a leading cause of death has contributed to a lack of awareness of the problem. Patients are less informed about their rights, and the risks to which they are exposed in hospitals and long-term care facilities. That lack of awareness does result in a complacent approach by hospital administrators, physicians and nurses, who may not find it worth their time and effort to invest in error prevention strategies.
While most patients are aware that heart attack and cancer can cause death, they’re not as informed concerning the dangers of medical errors. In fact, a vast majority of American patients are simply not equipped to deal with the kind of risk that they may be exposed to when they’re being treated at a hospital. Therefore, they do not speak up when they see a doctor attending to them without following basic hand washing procedures, or when nurses do not follow proper protocols for the changing of the catheters and IV lines. Such failures dramatically expose patients to the risk of medical injuries.
The Indiana medical malpractice attorneys at Montross Miller Muller Mendelson Kennedy represent persons who have been injured as a result of medical negligence in and across Indiana and work ceaselessly to educate Indiana residents about their rights. Contact them today if you believe that you or a loved one has been injured because of negligent medical care.