Americans place a good deal of trust in their physicians, and with good reason. The decisions these medical professionals make often have serious repercussions, and in some cases, they even have the capacity to mean the difference between life and death.
Statistics show, however, per CNBC, that today’s medical professionals are making critical mistakes at alarming rates. In fact, medical mistakes have become so prevalent across the nation that they are now the third-most common cause of death among Americans, with only heart disease and cancer currently claiming more lives.
Just how common are medical errors these days? The results of one recent study indicate that about 250,000 Americans die every year because of medical mistakes. However, there is reason to believe that the true number of people who lose their lives annually due to doctor negligence and other medical errors is actually closer to 400,000.
As far as what accounts for the difference in figures, many attribute it to the fact that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention find out how Americans are dying from morticians, coroners, medical examiners and, sometimes, physicians themselves. It is rare, however, for these professionals to note when a medical error played a role a patient’s death, even if such a mistake was, in fact, a contributing factor.
Types of medical errors
Today’s medical errors result from a broad range of different circumstances. Some medical mistakes arise because of clerical, administrative or computer errors. Others involve surgical errors, such as a doctor nicking part of the body or leaving a surgical sponge behind in a patient. Others yet involve misdiagnoses or delayed diagnoses, both of which can have a substantial impact on a patient’s condition and overall prognosis.
Doctors have a responsibility to provide the highest quality of care they possibly can. If you have concerns about something your doctor recommends or diagnoses, it may serve you well to get a second opinion.