Chicago medical malpractice attorney

Hospital Errors Are Third Leading Cause Of Death

Sometimes the care that’s supposed to help winds up hurting instead. A study published in autumn 2013 suggests that errors by hospital staffers may be responsible for more than 400,000 deaths annually. To put this figure in perspective, this number of mistakes would make hospital errors the third-leading cause of death in the United States, right behind heart disease and cancer. A previous study put the number of annual hospital error-related fatalities under 100,000, but the new study, published in The Journal of Patient Safety, found evidence that the earlier study (published by the Institute of Medicine in 1999) used inaccurate research techniques and therefore, the results could not be trusted.

People go to the hospital when they fear something is seriously wrong with themselves or their loved ones. They trust the doctors,  nurses and other medical professionals employed by the hospital to do their jobs and take care of them in their time of need. However, the frequency of hospital errors shows that people have a right to be worried about how they will be treated once they arrive at the hospital.

Hospital errors occur for a number of reasons. They often take place in the emergency room, where medical professionals are working quickly and often on little sleep to take care of patients. In emergency situations, doctors often have to make quick decisions–but these decisions may not always be right. Hospital errors can also occur with a hospital is understaffed, and the nurses and doctors are spread too thin to think clearly.

The new figures were estimated by John T. James, a NASA toxicologist who also runs an advocacy organization called Patient Safety America. The new study determined that preventable hospital errors lead to 210,000 annual deaths; that number nearly doubles when added to medical treatments that should have been offered but weren’t. The American Hospital Association is defending the old estimate (98,000 deaths annually), but ProPublica asked three prominent patient safety researchers to review James’ study, and all said his methods and findings were credible.

The Journal of Patient Safety suggests hospitals and medical staff should engage patients and their advocates during hospital care and seek the patients’ input in identifying potential harm. The study also suggests that hospitals encourage honesty and full disclosure when harm does occur, to allow correction. More stringent hiring policies and stricter employee reviews might also reduce fatality numbers. Employees should be held accountable for errors that they commit so others can learn from their mistakes.

If a loved one of yours was the victim of a wrongful death due to a hospital error, please speak right away to experienced personal injury attorney Joseph Dooley. A good personal injury lawyer will evaluate and investigate your case, advise you regarding your legal options, and fight for your rights. One of the most effective ways to begin reducing fatal hospital errors is to hold accountable those responsible for these errors. If you believe your family has lost a loved one due to a preventable hospital error, don’t hesitate to contact experienced personal injury attorney Joseph Dooley immediately.