A eight year study by Johns Hopkins University recently published that medical errors may be responsible for more than 250,000 deaths per year in the United States, which would rank it as the 3rd leading cause of death in the country. It may be that this figure is historically underreported as statistics on cause of death are gathered by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) using information from death certficiates. However, death certificates rely on medical codes to assign cause of death, and these codes have been designed to assist in physician billing, and not to explain medical error.
An article in The BMJ (British Medical Journal) discusses the Johns Hopkins study: "The science of safety has matured to describe how communication breakdowns, diagnostic errors, poor judgment, and inadequate skill can directly result in patient harm and death."
The study would suggest that current medical coding be expanded to add codes for medical errors so this information is more readily gathered for future analysis.
At Rosen & Spears, we encourage consumers to advocate that this type of information be clarified in our health systems. Increased accountability can shine a light on existing problems and stands to increase quality of care.
Rosen & Spears is a plaintiff law firm which seeks to protect the rights of healthcare consumers and their loved ones through medical malpractice, nursing home neglect, financial abuse of seniors, and other types of claims. For more information, please contact us.