A 1999 study by Institute of Medicine found that 98,000 Americans suffered fatalities annually due to medical errors. It is impossible to determine exact current statistics because states are not required to follow the same reporting guidelines that were in place in 1999. It is estimated, however, that medical mistake fatalities have increased significantly- taking the lives of more than 200,000 Americans each year. Doctors are supposed to prevent death, not cause it. So, why are medical mistakes one of the leading causes of death in the United States?
More Does Not Mean Better
One of the reasons that medical mistakes are on the rise is due to increases in medical treatments and procedures, many of which are medically unnecessary. Every time a new test or procedure is performed, an opportunity for medical mistakes is created. More procedures may result in greater possibilities for infection and complications as well as false positives. On that same note, the more medication that is prescribed the greater likelihood that the patient will experience an adverse reaction or overdose. Medical mistakes are preventable. Some hospitals have developed checklists and other policies that attempt to ensure patient safety. Doctors will, however, continue to make mistakes and unfortunately many will continue to prescribe unnecessary medications and procedures. People who experience harm as the result of medical mistakes may be able to obtain compensation from the responsible providers. A medical malpractice attorney can provide further information about potential claims and how to protect yourself. Source: The New York Times, “More Treatment, More Mistakes,” Sanjay Gupta, July 31, 2012.