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Research examines frequency of fatal medical mistakes


When an Oregon resident requires treatment for a medical issue, there is an inherent trust that the hospital staff will not make a mistake that leads to harm. However, errors can and do happen, and research suggests that the problem is far greater than previously thought.

Johns Hopkins researchers believe that more people die from medical mistakes than from respiratory diseases. When all is said and done, fatalities due to medical errors becomes the third most common reason for death in the United States behind only cancer and heart disease. In previous studies, researchers discovered that more than 250,000 deaths came about because of medical errors every year in the U.S. Some believe that the number is probably higher since deaths at home or after a nursing home error are not calculated into the total.

These particular numbers are higher than research from 1999 that estimated between 44,000 and 98,000 died because of medical errors. Other research has said that 195,000 people die on an annual basis because of medical errors. In 2008, it was reported by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that 180,000 Medicare patients died in one year due to medical mistakes.

Part of the reason for the inconsistency is the difficulty involved in listing a human error as the cause of the fatality on a death certificate. Regardless of the safety initiatives and research as to how many people are hurt or die because of a medical error, these mistakes result in massive medical expenses and fatal consequences. When a medical error occurs, those affected need to learn how to seek compensation with help from a lawyer experienced in cases involving hospital negligence.