An article by John T. James, PhD explains that preventable medical errors are among the leading cause of death in the United States, accounting for as many as 400,000 deaths per year. The previous estimate, made more than three decades ago in 1984, was only 98,000. Why such an alarmingly high difference? Today’s estimate takes a deeper look into the systemic errors that commonly plague our nation’s healthcare facilities.
The article identifies the following factors which are contributing to this public health epidemic in the U.S.:
- A lack of a well-integrated and comprehensive continuing education system in the health professions, leading to dangerous knowledge and performance deficiencies
- Out-of-date guidelines for physicians to optimize patient care
- Decreased staff and fatigued/burnt-out staff
- Inadequate access to suitable technology for patient care
- Inefficient handoffs between shifts and between inpatient and outpatient care
- A nationwide lag in implementing electronic medical records for its citizens as compared with other developed nations
- Complex medical care subsystems that can require patients to bounce around between providers are they seek effective and affordable care
- Lack of accountability for errors that harm patients (i.e. doctors list only the underlying condition as the cause of death when a patient dies when the death may have actually been the result of an error)
Patient harm can arise in a number of ways. A doctor may commit an act that causes harm, or it may be their failure to act that leads to injury. A miscommunication could result in a patient not getting the care he or she needs or receiving the wrong treatment, as can an error of context or diagnosis. Any failure of the doctor to take the time to review the patient’s medical history, listen to the patient’s complaints, order the correct tests, or prescribe the correct treatment could prove disastrous and lead to potentially deadly harm.
Learn More from a Washington DC Medical Malpractice Attorney
Doctors have a duty to provide their patients with attentive and skilled care. If they fail in this duty and their patient is injured or killed as a result, they may be guilty of medical malpractice and could face serious consequences. If you or a loved one has suffered harm as a result of an error by a physician, hospital, or other medical professional, we encourage you to contact The Law Offices of Dr. Michael M. Wilson M.D., J.D. & Associates for a free case review. We would be happy to help you understand your legal options. Call us at (202) 223-4488 to get started, or fill out our online case evaluation form.
Dr. Michael M. Wilson is an attorney and a physician who earned his undergraduate degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his legal and medical degrees from Georgetown University. He has focused in the area of medical malpractice for more than three decades and secured more than $100 million in settlements and verdicts on behalf of clients throughout the country. He is admitted to practice in the District of Columbia and New York as well as the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia and the U.S. Supreme Court. He is listed in America’s Top 100 High Stakes Litigators.