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Medical mistakes may be more common than you ever realized. One study says that they lead to 251,000 deaths every year. That’s not even counting all of the accidents that are not fatal.

To really show the scope of the problem, consider this: 251,000 fatal mistakes make medical malpractice the third-leading cause of death in the United States. It ranks ahead of accidents, Alzheimer’s, strokes and respiratory disease.

Heart disease remains the top killer in the nation. After that comes cancer in all forms. Those are the only two things that the study claims rank above medical errors.

Another way to look at the data is on a per-day basis. A total of 251,000 deaths per year means that 700 people lose their lives every day, or just under 30 per hour. That’s roughly one person passing away every two minutes, 24 hours a day, 365 days per year.

If accurate, the study means that 9.5 percent of all fatalities in the United States fall into this category.

Granted, it is a broad category. If a surgeon makes a mistake on the operating table, that counts. If there is a mix-up with the records and a patient is given a medication to which he or she is allergic, that counts. If a patient is not monitored properly and passes away in recovery, that also counts.

Still, it’s a frightening statistic and it shows that medical malpractice is a real issue that people need to be aware of when seeking care. If you’re harmed or a loved one is killed, you must know your rights.

Source: Washington Post, “Researchers: Medical errors now third leading cause of death in United States,” Ariana Eunjung Cha, accessed Nov. 9, 2017