Medical Errors Leading Cause of Death

Posted in Uncategorized on December 30, 2016.

We depend on our medical providers to keep us safe and tend to our health to the best of their ability. Unfortunately, negligence in the medical community is more common than we might think. A recent study by researchers at John Hopkins, published in the British Medical Journal, said that medical mistakes are a leading cause of death in the United States – trailing only behind heart disease and cancer.

Based on their analysis, around 250,000 people die each year as the result of medical mistakes. Researchers recommend that the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention immediately begin tabulating medical mistakes in the annual report of the leading causes of mortality in the United States. The authors compare medical mistakes to plane crashes: when a plane crashes, the federal government conducts a thorough investigation to find the cause and prevent further accidents. Why should we not take the same approach with medical mistakes?

In a law setting, we know that medical mistakes are far too common. Here are some of the most common medical errors that lead to morbidity or mortality:

Medication Mix Ups

Drug errors are one of the most common errors that can happen in a hospital setting and can have disastrous consequences. According to a recent study by Harvard researchers, medication mix ups occur in about half of all surgeries – the most common being a wrong dose. The researchers estimate that around 1,000 medication errors occur in hospitals each day.

One of the reasons why this error is so common is the number of opportunities there are for medical professionals to make a mistake. For example, a pharmacist may dispense the wrong medication or the wrong amount, while a nurse may administer it to the wrong patient.

How Can I Reduce My Risk?

Bring a list of all your medications with you to the hospital prior to your stay. Include dosage information and over-the-counter supplements, as these can sometimes interfere with prescription medications. Prior to taking medicine, verify the name and dose.


Birth Injuries

The last thing you expect when entering a hospital to give birth is for your child to be injured. Yet, birth injuries in hospitals are still common. One of the most common birth injuries is the administration of too much oxygen. While all babies need oxygen to thrive, there is such a thing as too much. Premature babies who get too much supplemental oxygen can suffer eye damage and even go blind.

How Can I Reduce My Baby’s Risk?

Early term and premature babies might need supplemental oxygen to prevent brain damage. Just be sure your physician is aligning the amount of oxygen with the child’s birth weight.


Hospital Related Infections

You come to a hospital to feel better – so imagine your surprise when your recuperation turns into a daylong infection that brings additional misery. Hospital “superbugs” like MRSA are hard to treat and can lead to intense discomfort. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 1 in 25 hospital patients contract an infection during their stay. Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to reduce your risk.

How Can I Reduce My Risk?

Frequent hand washing is the easiest way to prevent the spread of infection. If you don’t see your healthcare provider wash his or her hands before entering a room or performing an examination, ask him or her to do so. It’s your right to receive care in a safe and clean environment.

Medical errors from a variety of causes present a compelling threat to our nation’s health. Fortunately, we can all take steps to advocate for our patient’s rights and reduce our risk of injury. 

If you or a loved one is suffering from medical malpractice, contact our Birmingham injury attorneys today to set up a free consultation.