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CDC needs to recognize the extent of deadly medical errors

Aug 1, 2017 | Doctor Errors

A professor from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine wants people in New York and nationwide to know about the risks posed by medical errors. To promote better research about the problem, the professor wrote to the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The letter urged the CDC to account for deadly medical mistakes because recognition could open up grant dollars for research aimed at improving patient safety.

A study published in a peer-reviewed journal tabbed the number of deaths from medical errors in 2013 at 251,454. This figure greatly exceeds fatalities from respiratory disease, which the CDC considers the third-leading cause of death. The letter to the director identified the sources of preventable fatal mistakes as poor judgment, badly coordinated care, diagnostic errors, systemic problems and avoidable adverse effects.

An analysis of four studies conducted by Johns Hopkins looked at data from 2000 to 2008 and concluded that on average 700 deaths per day resulted from health care mistakes. An author of the book "Don’t Let Your Doctor Kill You" advised people to seek medical providers who make eye contact and appear interested in helping. She also recommended that people refuse procedures that they are not comfortable with.

When a person experiences a worsened condition because of medical errors, it could constitute medical malpractice. If a review of the evidence by an independent physician reveals that care fell below accepted standards, an attorney could seek to recover damages from a negligent doctor. Compensation for additional medical bills, lost income and long-term disability could be sought.