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Albert Buzzetti & Associates, L.L.C.

Medical mistakes are the third leading cause of death, study says

When a person in New Jersey is seriously ill or injured, they put their full trust in the medical professionals caring for them. After all, doctors, surgeons, nurses and pharmacists go through years of schooling to obtain licenses to practice in their chosen profession. Moreover, they have the specialized skills and knowledge about a person's illness or injury that the average person does not have. However, medical mistakes are still made all too often, sometimes with deadly results.

According to a Johns Hopkins study, over 250,000 individuals in the United States pass away each year due to medical mistakes. This makes medical mistakes the third highest cause of death, following heart disease and cancer. Some studies even claim that there may be as many as 440,000 fatalities every year in the U.S. due to medical mistakes. This discrepancy is due to the fact that human error is not always listed on death certificates.

Per the Johns Hopkins study, a fatal medical mistake is one that is caused by an adverse effect that could have been prevented, a defective system, errors in judgment or care, or inadequately skilled staff. For example, a computer breakdown, complications that occur during surgery or the improper dosage of medication can all lead to fatal medical mistakes.

Unneeded medical procedures can also cause complications that could ultimately be fatal. For example, according to the John Hopkins study, 20 percent of all medical procedures performed on patients in the U.S. may not be necessary. Overprescribing medications such as painkillers are also an unnecessary medical procedure that could prove to be fatal.

As this shows, medical malpractice is a serious issue in our nation. Medical professionals are legally obligated to treat patients with the degree of care that a reasonably competent medical professional would use under similar circumstances. When a medical professional fails to adhere to this standard of care and makes a mistake that leads to a fatality, the survivors of the deceased may want to pursue a personal injury claim.

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