Medical Errors Are the Third Leading Cause of Death in the United States, Researchers Say

Medical errors kill more Americans annually than motor vehicle accidents, firearms and suicide combined, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Despite this, hospitals and medical providers are doing very little to determine how to prevent them from happening.

Indeed, discussions about how to prevent medical errors usually only occur in very limited forums within a hospital, such as confidential quality assurance committees, where information is shared only with those who are “in the know.” These discussions do not occur every time a medical error takes place, but only in response to certain, egregious errors. The lack of transparency in the medical community regarding medical errors prevents medical providers from learning from the mistakes of others and makes it much more likely that they will keep repeating the same mistakes.

Medical malpractice actions prevent hospitals and medical providers from sweeping medical errors under the rug. When a patient files suit over a medical error, the information is made public. Medical providers who would not normally have been informed of the medical mistake will know about the medical error and will have an opportunity to learn from it. In New Hampshire, a copy of the complaint is automatically sent to the Board of Medicine, so there is an independent review of whether the offending physician is fit to practice medicine. Finally, other patients have an opportunity to learn of the medical mistake and factor that into their decision making when trying to select their own healthcare providers.

The legal process plays an important role in holding hospitals and medical providers accountable for medical mistakes when they do occur and in preventing future medical mistakes from happening. If you have been injured by a medical error, it is important to contact an attorney as soon as possible to discuss your rights. The attorneys at Abramson, Brown & Dugan have vast experience handling such claims in New Hampshire and are happy to discuss your specific needs with you.



Holly Haines