When people buy into the national campaigns by medical and insurance interests to demonize the nature of medical malpractice claims, they probably are not aware of some shocking facts. These facts - documented by several different statistical sources – say that medical negligence causes almost 10 percent of all deaths in the country, including our share here in Louisiana, each year. A new study published by doctors at one of the most prestigious medical schools in the country just recently estimated that 251,000 lives are lost to medical malpractice each year.
When the conclusions come from a team of doctors at one of the country's most celebrated medical schools, they should not be ignored. The report also concludes that deaths from "medical errors" constitute the third leading cause of death in the country. The study looks at far-reaching factors such as negligent communications and other faulty protocols in hospitals.
It also includes the deaths of innocent patients at the hands of inexperienced and impaired physicians. This category includes carelessness in general. To put it in the boldest terms possible, the professor of surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine who led the research, stated in effect that many people are dying not from the disease that they have but from the care that they receive.
The Johns Hopkins study used detailed statistics from several federal agencies to come up with the figure of 251,000 dead each year from medical negligence. In a prior study from the Institute of Medicine in 1999, the estimated figure, which was based on fewer sources, was 98,000 deaths per year. In a sense, the researchers are putting the facts on the table so that the medical profession will begin to face and discuss the problem of medical malpractice. Without action in that direction, the problem could likely develop into a full-blown disaster that is emerging on the horizon, including for patients here in Louisiana.
Source: The Washington Post, "Researchers: Medical errors now third leading cause of death in United States", Ariana Eunjung, May 3, 2016