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Is Medical Error Really in the Top 3 Causes of Death in the US?


By now, many people in Florida and across the country have read the Johns Hopkins study about medical errors being the third leading cause of death in the US. Perhaps you have even reviewed additional articles and media coverage about this earth shattering news, or saw related memes pop up in social media. However, The results of the study have come under scrutiny since publication in May 2016. Some analysts believe the findings are much higher than reality, distorting the true nature of how often patients are affected by medical malpractice.

Even as the experts debate whether the Johns Hopkins figures are based on accurate data, statistics mean little if you suffered harm because of negligence by a health care provider. What is important is getting the compensation you deserve, and a Florida medical malpractice attorney can assist with the process. Still, you might find it interesting to review both sides of the study results.

Early Studies on Medical Malpractice: Some of the first in-depth analyses about medical harm originated in the 1990’s, when some experts estimated that deaths from preventable medical mistakes ranged from 44,000–98,000 per year. Other researchers have since published strong critiques of the findings, saying these numbers are far too high and do not properly account for margin of error. Many of the studies include notations suggesting that there may also be issues due to underreporting, especially since some health care providers do not undertake appropriate measures to self-report their own errors. 

Controversy Over Recent Statistics: Two studies published in the last decade indicate that the incidence of fatal medical errors could be much higher than previous studies:

  1. A 2013 paper suggests that up to 440,000 patients die every year because of mistakes by health care providers.
  2. The Johns Hopkins study from 2016 reported that more than 251,000 patient deaths are linked to preventable medical error. The publication pronounced medical mistakes as the third leading cause of death in the US, after heart disease and cancer.

Many in the medical community immediately criticized the notion that around 250,000–440,000 patients die annually because of medical mistakes. They noted that the figures were extrapolated from outdated studies involving just 35 patient deaths – a spurious connection for such a small sample. Experts also disputed the definition of “medical error,” saying it was overbroad. 

Any Medical Error Can Still Lead to Serious Patient Harm: Regardless of studies on how frequently mistakes occur, you do not need statistics to establish a claim for medical malpractice. You need to prove that your physician deviated from the medical standards that are generally accepted in the field of medicine. If you can show that such negligence was the direct cause of your harm, you may be able to recover compensation for your losses. 

Contact a Florida Medical Malpractice Lawyer to Discuss Your Rights 

If you suffered harm or lost a loved one through medical error, please contact Freidin Brown, P.A. to schedule a no-cost case evaluation with our Miami medical malpractice lawyers. We can meet at our offices to review your circumstances and determine how to proceed with a potential medical malpractice action.




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