For Pennsylvanians and people across the United States, there is a natural amount of trust placed in medical professionals of all kinds to provide the proper care as necessary. That includes accurate diagnosis, giving the correct medication, making certain the treatment protocol is adhered to and all the people who are providing care are on the same page. Unfortunately, medical errors are common with patients being injured, getting ill and even losing their lives because of them. Researchers are constantly trying to determine how and why these missteps occur to formulate strategies to prevent them. Even with that, when a person suffers an unexpected outcome after receiving medical care or there is an egregious mistake, those impacted should remember their rights.
Gauging the frequency of medical mistakes
In studies, medical professionals try to assess medical mistakes clinically with the goal of recognizing hallmarks of when they might happen and intervening beforehand. As part of that, they looked at the most frequent reasons for mistakes, where they might have happened, what it means and how to craft strategies to prevent them. There are specific times and locations when these mistakes are prone to happen. Intensive care units, emergency rooms and operating rooms are named. The conditions being treated, how urgent the situation is and if it is a new procedure are also factors.
Studies from two decades ago found that nearly 100,000 deaths due to medical errors were the sixth most common cause of death in the nation. Another study in 2010 found that it was double that. In 2013, it was found that between 210,000 and 440,000 people could lose their lives because of medical errors. This made it the third highest reason for death after heart disease and cancer. In 2016, Johns Hopkins analyzed fatality rates over eight years and discovered that more than a quarter-million people lose their lives after a medical gaffe.
A major flaw in trying to come to a definitive conclusion as to how many people lose their lives because of a medical mistake is that the death certificate does not provide this level of detail as to a cause of death. The number of fatalities is one concern, but people can also be injured and become ill because of errors by healthcare providers costing them personally, emotionally and, of course, financially.
After suspected medical mistakes, a full investigation is needed
As of now there is no known method to accurately determine how many people are injured or lose their lives due to medical errors. Still, the problem is so pervasive that it stands to reason that unexplained illness and death could be attributed to medical malpractice. Whether it is a wrong diagnosis, failure to adhere to standard protocol, not giving the correct medication, overdosing, a hospital infection, a birth injury, anesthesia errors or any other problem, having assistance to gather evidence and move forward with a case is imperative. Consulting with those experienced in these cases can be helpful.