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Number of deaths due to medical mistakes

People in Texas might be alarmed to hear that according to recent estimates released by the Journal of Patient Safety, between 210,000 and 440,000 patients die every year due to medical errors that were preventable. If the newest research is really the case, then medical mistakes would be the third-leading cause of death among people, behind cancer and heart disease.

In 2010, the Office of Inspector General for the Department of Health and Human Services found that medical errors contributed to the deaths of more than 180,000 Medicare patients alone in one year. However, some medical professions have more confidence in the 1999 'To Err Is Human" report released by the Institute of Medicine. According to that report, up to 98,000 people die per year as a result of medical mistakes. This number would certainly result in fewer wrongful death lawsuits being filed.

According to other healthcare professionals, 210,000 deaths per year is merely the baseline and only represents one-sixth of all the deaths in the U.S. every year. They say that this is because hospital reporting systems and peer-reviews only capture a percentage of the actual statistics. While pinpointing the exact number of patient deaths caused by medical mistakes is nearly impossible, healthcare professionals agree that it is important to research the issue in order to maintain a high level of awareness.

Family members of patients who die as a result of medical errors might be able to file lawsuits against the doctors who treated their family members. Such lawsuits could potentially compensate them for their loved ones' unpreventable deaths, their medical expenses, burial expenses and lost earning power. An attorney familiar with medical malpractice law could assist these families pursue compensation.

Source: RI NPR, "How Many Die From Medical Mistakes In U.S. Hospitals?", September 24, 2013

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