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Hospital medical errors are a leading cause of death

People who seek medical care in Oregon and across the United States depend on medical professionals to give effective and helpful treatment, but medical errors can and do happen. According to recent studies, hospital medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the U.S., with between 200,000 and 400,000 deaths every year attributed to hospital medical errors. These errors range from medication mistakes to doctors performing the wrong surgery.

According to the Journal of Patient Safety, the number of medical error-related deaths occurring in hospitals and after patient discharge is about equal. Studies examined medical errors that could have been prevented. In addition to medication errors and wrong surgeries, these errors included miscommunication between health personnel, misdiagnoses, omissions in treatment and infections acquired while in the hospital or other healthcare facility.

One study examined patient and doctor reporting of adverse events. The findings indicate that patients report up to three times more adverse events than were actually shown in their records. The study also shows that some doctors refuse to report serious adverse events. Among specialists, cardiologists ranked highest in the non-reporting group.

The cost of these medical errors is high, not only for families but for the country’s health care. Additional medical costs resulting from medical errors, such as ancillary services and in-patient and out-patient care, are estimated to cost the U.S. over $15 billion year.

When someone is injured, becomes ill or dies due to medical error or hospital negligence, they or their families may be entitled to compensation. Hospitals and medical personnel may be backed by legal teams that will fight against the claim, so a claimant could benefit from representation by an attorney.