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Are medical errors underreported?

When we seek medical care, we put our trust in medical professionals, clinics, and hospitals that they will give us the right advice in regard to what to do to take care of ourselves. When we need a medical procedure done, we trust the people performing those procedures are fully qualified, and are fully prepared to do their job.

Of course, mistakes happen in every job, but in the medical field mistakes can lead to serious consequences. A breach in communication can mean someone gets a fatal dosage of a medication, or gets an operation they don't need -- or fails to get one they do. A serious illness may not be diagnosed and treated, or it may inadvertently be treated with a medication to which the patient is allergic. Depending on the details in any of these examples, there may be medical malpractice.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention don't recognize medical errors as an official cause of death, but if they did, it would be listed near the top, right below heart disease and cancer.

Medical Errors Missing From Cause of Death List

According to research conducted by John's Hopkins, medical errors account for approximately a quarter-million deaths each year in the United States. The fact that this is not reported in CDC statistics is cause for concern. Instead of reporting preventable errors on death certificates, what is reported is the person's underlying disease, even if it didn't relate to their actual death. It's been suggested there be a question on the actual death certificate that would address whether or not a death should have been prevented. However, many believe if the CDC was to report medical errors as a major cause of death, it would signal malpractice is a larger problem than many people think.

When is a Mistake Malpractice?

Not every medical mistake constitutes malpractice. Many mistakes are made in the medical field, but most are caught early and corrected without much resulting damage. It is when an error can be directly linked to a serious complication, major injury, or death there is a good chance malpractice is at play.

There are times when people die or suffer great injuries and medical malpractice is not to blame. But, if there is any question, it is important to address your concerns with a medical malpractice lawyer by scheduling a consultation. Once your case is reviewed, you and the attorney can decide together whether to pursue justice and compensation for your experience or loss.

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