New York residents may be dismayed when they learn that in the United States, medical error is the third-largest cause of deaths, although the number is not counted among the national statistics that determine priorities for funding research. Statistically, third place is held by chronic lower respiratory disease with only cancer and heart disease more likely culprits. The reason is that there is no billing code for medical error. As a result, such errors are attributed to other causes.
A study published in a medical journal found that more than 250,000 people die each year as a result of medical error, although some observers believe that the number is far higher. The study was conducted by researchers at the John Hopkins University School of Medicine who examined studies of death rate data.
Errors may range from the wrong medication to patient neglect to a misdiagnosis. According to the one of the researchers, as there is increasing documentation of medical errors, it is important for the medical community to begin discussing the problem.
Medical errors can have devastating consequences for a person's recovery. In the medical field, rare errors, such as wrong-site surgery and other surgical errors, are known as "never events" because they are never supposed to happen, but more common errors can be just as dangerous. Patients might be administered medication that they are allergic to or diagnosed too late for the most effective treatments to be used. When this occurs, they may want to speak to an attorney about filing a medical malpractice lawsuit. The medical professional or medical facility might want to settle out of court. If the offer is not acceptable and the case goes to court, the decision will rest upon whether there was a failure to exhibit the appropriate standard of care.