251,000 -- that is how many deaths occur in the United States each year because of medical errors. And that makes medical errors the third-leading cause of death in the U.S., according to a recent study.
The findings, which were published in the BMJ, showed that preventable medical errors result in more deaths each year than respiratory disease, accidents, stroke and Alzheimer's disease. Only heart disease and cancer cause more deaths than medical error.
"It boils down to people dying from the care that they receive rather than the disease for which they are seeking care."
Those are the words of Martin Makary, the lead researcher and a professor of surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
But what has led to this epidemic?
Patient-safety researchers say there is a lack of standardized reporting of errors, and doctors and hospitals are tight-lipped about mistakes.
Determining the extent of the problem is the first step toward preventing medical mistakes. When hospitals and other medical providers know how and when medical errors occur, preventative measures can be taken.
The trouble is that the reporting of errors is generally left up to individual doctors and medical institutions, and there is not enough incentive to report mistakes in order to address them appropriately and prevent similar mistakes in the future.
There is also the problem of medical negligence.
The medical malpractice attorneys of Ballay, Braud & Colon have been representing victims of medical negligence for more than 30 years. If you believe medical negligence has harmed you or a loved one, contact a medical malpractice attorney to discuss your legal options.
For more on the process of filing a medical malpractice claim in Louisiana, please see our overview of medical negligence.