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Hospital errors cause nearly 10 percent of U.S. deaths

When many Illinois residents think about the leading causes of death in the United States, they most likely think of accidents, cancer, heart disease and other illnesses. It might surprise many people to know that nearly 10 percent of the deaths in the United States are actually caused by doctor, surgical and other hospital errors. That percentage makes it the third leading cause of death in this country.

The data that revealed this alarming percentage was based on several factors. The first is whether the doctor misdiagnosed a patient's condition. Another category involves mistakes made by medical professionals relating to judgment, coordination or skill when it comes to the care a patient receives. Other types of errors that made up the data that was gathered include preventable complications, system failures and failures to save the lives of dying patients.

An older study by the Institute of Medicine, which was the standard for nearly 20 years, estimated that only 44,000 to 98,000 people would die each year from medical mistakes. The new study, which revealed the 10 percent statistic, translates to hundreds of thousands of deaths each year from medical errors. Considering that millions of people are admitted to hospitals each year, 10 percent might not seem like a large number, but to the families who lost loved ones who were in the care of hospitals, it is an unacceptable amount.

Illinois families who have lost loved ones to hospital errors do retain the right to file medical malpractice claims against all of the parties who are believed responsible. If the presented evidence indicates that the standard of care was sub-par, then the court might consider an award of damages. Not only could a family receive financial restitution, but a successful verdict could also help keep another family from experiencing a similar tragedy.

Source: U.S. News and World Report, "Medical Errors Are Third Leading Cause of Death in the U.S.", Steve Sternberg, May 3, 2016

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