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Medical errors third leading cause of deaths in the U.S.

Think for a moment about the leading causes of death in the United States. You'll probably quickly think of things like cancer, heart disease, car accidents, firearm issues and workplace falls. All of these have their place on that list, but you may be surprised to learn just how highly medical mistakes rank.

According to reports from 2018, medical errors are the "third-leading cause of death." Studies have put the number of fatalities from medical errors at somewhere between 250,000 and 440,000 people per year. It's an incredible loss of life, but it's also one that does not get nearly as much press as other issues.

For instance, you probably hear a lot about drunk driving. And it is an issue in the United States. For the sake of comparison, though, impaired drivers take around 10,000 lives per year, on average. Some of those lives are their own and some are others. Regardless, though, these new reports show that at least 25 times as many people keep dying due to medical mistakes, and it could be as high as 44 times as many people. That's a huge gulf, considering most people do not even think about medical errors when asked about top causes of death.

Examples of medical mistakes

Medical mistakes can take many forms. One thing to remember is that this does not just include a treatment option not working. Doctors are not expected to save everyone. Someone who has a terminal condition may get perfect treatment and still pass away because there was just nothing more the doctors could do.

Medical mistakes are when doctors make errors and do not offer proper care, allowing someone to pass away when they may have survived with the right care. Examples include:

  • Giving a patient the wrong medication
  • Failing to give a patient the medication that they need
  • Giving patients, and especially children, more of a medication than their bodies can handle
  • Leaving items inside the body after surgery
  • Performing surgery on the wrong site
  • Not monitoring a patient's vital signs properly
  • Making a misdiagnosis or failing to make a diagnosis at all
  • Recommending the wrong treatment

These are just a few examples, but you can imagine how many forms these mistakes can take. All of them put patients in serious danger, leading to the high death tolls.

Your legal rights

Have you lost a loved one because of a doctor's error? If you have, make sure you know what rights you have and what steps to take moving forward.

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