Every day, thousands of Americans place their lives and their trust in the hands of the medical professionals who advise them, treat them, and operate on them. We take for granted that doctors and nurses are trained professionals with years of schooling and experience to guide their decision-making and ensure the health and safety of their patients. However, a recent study by researchers at Johns Hopkins University suggests that our optimistic faith in the medical profession may be misleading us, and the rate of medical errors in West Virginia and throughout the country is much higher than many of us have previously believed.
In a study released on May 3 in the BMJ (British Medical Journal), researchers argue that a careful look at the data available shows that medical errors are currently the third-ranking cause of death in the United States. These include not only medical errors that occur during surgery or other high-risk treatments, but also medical misdiagnoses, erroneous prescriptions, and faulty treatments. In total, the researchers calculate that 250,000 people die from medical errors every year.
Currently, the Centers for Disease Control does not consider medical errors when recording and analyzing data on causes of death. This means that if an individual enters the hospital for heart disease and dies during bypass surgery due to an error by a cardiovascular surgeon, the CDC will still code the cause of death as heart disease because it was the health issue that the individual was experiencing at the time. In so doing, the researchers argue that the CDC obscures the true cause of death and discourages patients and health care professionals from taking a critical look at the many medical errors occurring in hospitals and doctors’ offices across the country. It also stymies research into how to make medical treatment safer for patients and how to reduce instances of medical malpractice.
The researchers argue that the under-reporting of medical errors and medical malpractice prevents people from being fully informed about medical risks they may be taking on or alternative, safer, solutions that may be available. They contend that the accurate disclosure of this information would result in benefits to the greater public, and the medical community, through transparency, increased research funding, and safer medical practice.
Medical malpractice remains a significant issue for individuals seeking health treatment throughout the state, and it costs practitioners and insurers millions of dollars every year. If you have a family member who was recently injured or killed as a result of a medical error, it is important for both the general public and the medical community to be made aware of what has happened. Additionally, a medical malpractice claim may also be necessary to correct the injustice that has occurred. Our West Virginia personal injury lawyers have been assisting clients with medical malpractice claims throughout the state for more than 25 years. Located in Elkins, West Virginia, the firm represents clients in a wide range of injury, criminal defense, and bankruptcy matters. Call us at 1-877-637-5756 or contact us online for a free consultation.
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