In a somewhat surprising study released this week from Johns Hopkins University, it has been revealed that medical error has resulted in the death of approximately 250,000 people per year placing it third as the leading cause of death behind heart disease (611k) and cancer (585k).
The study does go on to state that not all of these instances are linked to individual error, nor is every such instance actionable in court. Instead, quite a large number of these cases are systemic in nature such as, poor coordination of care, insurance gaps and lack of necessary protocols. In other words, failure in the system from affording care, to receiving different care from different doctors may be as much to blame as individual medical error. Improving and streamlining procedures as well as opening dialogue about where and when mistakes are happening are seen as two critical areas in need of improvement. Of course, systemic problems are nearly impossible to litigate as it is a fundamental health care problem in this country.
A good percentage of those 250k deaths are directly linked to medical negligence. Errors in treatment either by a single doctor or a team of doctors, however, may be actionable in a medical malpractice claim. A doctors negligence can have profound, permanent, life changing effects on the victim and in those cases it is worth speaking to an experienced medical malpractice attorney. While this article speaks to deaths caused by medical malpractice, the victim does not need to die in order for the estate to have a claim. Any life changing medical error may be the basis for a lawsuit.