Fatal medical mistakes may be way more common than you think

You know that fatal medical mistakes, tragic as they are, happen every year. However, do you know just how common they are? You may be shocked.

One study determined that around 250,000 people pass away annually from health care errors. This includes, but is not limited to, mistakes made in hospitals.

For example, a botched surgery causes a patient to pass away during what should have been a routine procedure. Or a medical professional gives someone the wrong drug; the person is allergic to the medication and has a fatal reaction.

To put that 250,000 estimate in perspective, if it's accurate, that would mean that medical mistakes take more lives than strokes on a yearly basis. They kill more people than accidents -- including car accidents -- and respiratory disease. In fact, that number would rank medical errors as the No. 3 cause of death for Americans.

So, how accurate is that number? Technically, the study settled on 251,000 deaths per year. They do admit that not everyone agrees, but they said there's is general professional agreement that the total is at least 200,000 and not more than 400,000. In that sense, the 251,000 even looks like it's a bit conservative.

Of course, this is also an annual estimate, as the real total is hard to track and changes from year to year, but it still paints a picture of the overall scope of the problem.

Have you lost a loved one due to medical malpractice and avoidable mistakes? It's more common than many family members realize, and it's important to know exactly what legal options you have.

Source: PBS, "Is fatal medical error a leading cause of death?," Hari Sreenivasan, accessed Nov. 08, 2017

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