Medical negligence is the third leading cause of death in the United States-following heart disease and cancer-according to Consumer Reports. Americans are more likely to die of a medical mistake than they are Alzheimer’s, a stroke, kidney disease, or an auto accident. More than 250,000 people in the US die of medical malpractice each year, according to John’s Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore study.

According to  Modern Healthcare,  medical errors resulting from hospital adverse events occur at about 121 hospital-acquired-conditions per 1,000 admissions. Almost 10% of hospital patients will experience some type of hospital adverse event, whether fatal or nonfatal.

Martin Makary, M.D., and Michael Daniel, authors of the John’s Hopkins study believe that  the number of deaths caused by medical negligence may actually be higher due to under reporting. Their research found that about 251,454 Americans died as a result of drug errors, medical misdiagnosis,preventable infections, and poor communication-especially upon discharge

However, Markay and Daniel  suggested that it may be difficult to tell exactly how many deaths are the results of medical errors because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not require that death certificates record medical errors as the cause of death. Additionally, previous research suggested that 440,000 people died each year due to medical errors.

In many states, hospital adverse events – including medical malpractice – are tracked through a hospital adverse event reporting system, according to the National Academy for State Health Policy.  Currently 26 states, including Washington D.C. have a reporting system in place to collect data on hospital –related deaths and injuries. In Pennsylvania alone, more than 277,564 hospital adverse events were reported in 2013.

When a hospital adverse event is the result of medical negligence, the injured patient, or surviving loved-ones of a deceased victim may be eligible to seek compensation by filing a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Death and serious injury account for more than 50% of medical malpractice lawsuits filed in the United States, according to the Medical Malpractice Lawyers at Only When You Win. In 2012 alone, medical malpractice payouts resulted in more than $3 billion. The top five states for medical malpractice payouts are New York, Pennsylvania, California, New Jersey, and Florida.

Posted by Legal Lookout Editor