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A group of researchers now estimate that the average American is more likely to die from a medical mistake than a stroke or respiratory disease. According to a recent study conducted by physicians at Johns Hopkins University and published in The BMJ, medical mistakes rank as the third leading cause of fatality today. Only cancer and heart disease will claim more Americans this year, the study states.
South Jersey medical malpractice lawyers say that the report sheds an important spotlight on the way fatalities in the United States are reported, in that causes of death not associated with an International Classification of Disease (ICD) code are not captured by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Consequently, when a death is caused by human error – such as a medical mistake – it often is not communicated to government officials tasked with tracking the greatest threats to American health and safety.
Although physicians and other medical personnel are increasingly being asked to self-report instances of medical mistakes, the results of those self-reports and internal inquiries often remain private, as healthcare providers balance their need to improve services with a fear of rising medical malpractice insurance. The researchers at Johns Hopkins maintain that the air of secrecy is detrimental to patient health. By keeping medical mistakes a secret, physicians are less likely to learn from their own prior missteps according to the study.
The study further posits that preventable, medical mistakes led to 251,000 fatalities in 2013 alone. However, according to researchers the true rate may hover at around 400,000 or more. Additionally, the study notes that under-recognition of fatal medical mistakes is not a problem limited to the United States. To that end, the World Health Organization maintains that 117 other countries also use an ICD code system to track loss of life.
No doctor or nurse is infallible, and even the most experienced medical personnel in the world can make a mistake. Unfortunately, medical mistakes can carry lifelong – and even life-ending – consequences. If you or a loved one was injured by a medical mistake, contact the South Jersey medical malpractice lawyers at Folkman Law. Our experienced team of litigators will investigate your claim at no cost. Contact us today at 856-354-9444 or submit an online inquiry to schedule a consultation at our Cherry Hill, New Jersey offices. We represent clients in South Jersey and Southeastern Pennsylvania.