Medical Mistakes are the 3rd Leading Cause of Death in the US
A recent report states that every year, at least 250,000 Americans die due to preventable medical errors. The true number is probably much higher, because death due to medical mistakes is not specifically recorded on American death certificates. Lowenthal & Abrams has been reporting on this finding for some time now, but the focus has increased of late. We are glad to see this. It is our hope that change will occur as a result of increased attention to this terrible and deadly epidemic.
Why Are So Many People Dying?
Over the next few weeks, Lowenthal & Abrams will be writing a series of posts analyzing why people are dying due to preventable medical errors. Today, we will begin by taking a look at the most common reasons people are receiving poor medical treatment.
Leaving Equipment inside Patients
Believe it or not, sometimes medical teams leave surgical equipment inside of patients. This should never happen, but it does. Surgical teams are required to account for every piece of medical equipment, but sometimes they are unable to do so. Technology can be used to help keep track of all equipment.
As a medical malpractice firm, we know that it can be very hard to win an infection case. And yet, infections are easily prevented with proper care. Simply washing hands can help prevent many infections, as can making sure equipment is properly cleaned. If hospitals, doctors and staff take some basic steps, they can substantially decrease the risk of serious infections, such as blood poisoning.
The proper use of anesthesia during surgery is critical. Imagine waking up in the middle of doctors operating on you? That is a terrible result. But even worse is when the anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist fails to properly monitor the patient’s reactions, leading to their death.
Failure to communicate properly is a huge issue. If doctors and staff do not communicate with one another, or if a doctor’s handwriting is so messy that a nurse cannot read it, serious and deadly mistakes can result.
Keeping proper records, and making certain to review those records, is a critical part of medical care. And yet, surprisingly frequently, doctors and medical staff fail to review records, fail to read tests properly, or fail to inform patients when there is a serious problem. This can lead to delayed or incorrect diagnoses, which can lead to death or serious harm.
Poorly trained nurses, residents and interns who are not suited to treat patiens often cause dangerous situations resulting in poor outcomes.
Conclusion – People Are Dying Unnecessarily Due to Preventable Medical Errors
Many of the mistakes we have mentioned are preventable. Use of modern technology, proper care in treatment, proper procedures, each of these steps can help decrease the number of people who die due to medical errors. Over the next few weeks Lowenthal & Abrams will be exploring some of the issues we have mentioned here to help you understand the risks and what you can do to minimize them.
It is up to each and every one of us to insist that the medical profession take serious stock of itself and stop this epidemic. An epidemic leading to hundreds of thousands of deaths every single year.