Based on an eight year study, patient safety experts at Johns Hopkins recently concluded this year that greater than 250,000 patients die in the United States each year due to medical errors. The numbers place deaths due to medical errors higher than respiratory disease, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention names as the third leading cause of death in the United States with close to 150,000 deaths annually.

Johns Hopkins further stated that procedures for noting cause of death on death certificates needs to be updated to more easily and accurately track deaths due to medical errors, which would better facilitate collection of national health statistics. The researchers examined four different studies that looked at the medical death rate data from the years 2000 to 2008. They then looked at hospital admission rates from 2013 and determined that based on a total of 35,416,020 hospitalizations, 251,454 deaths were caused by medical errors, translating to 9.5 percent of all deaths annually in the U.S.

The CDC reports that in 2013, 611,105 people died from heart disease, 584,881 died from cancer and just under 150,000 died from chronic respiratory disease, which are the top three causes of deaths in the United States. The figure calculated by researchers for deaths related to medical errors places it between cancer and respiratory disease, topping the number of deaths caused by respiratory disease. The researchers concluded that more funding and attention should be paid to medical errors. Diagnostic errors and medical mistakes, such as misdiagnoses, failure to diagnose, or wrong-site surgery, among other medical errors, can be costly for victims of medical malpractice and their families.

Because of the serious nature of medical malpractice for victims killed or harmed by it, important wrongful death options are available to families and medical malpractice claims may also be available to injured victims. Victims may be able to recover physical, financial and emotional damages associated with a medical malpractice claim, so it is important that they are aware of the legal options available to help them.

Source: Johns Hopkins Medicine, “Study Suggests Medical Errors Now Third Leading Cause of Death in the U.S.,” May 3, 2016