According to a recent study, medical malpractice could be the third-leading cause of death in the United State after cancer and heart disease.
Martin Makary, a professor of surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine who led the research, said in an interview that the category includes everything from bad doctors to more systemic issues such as communication breakdowns when patients are handed off from one department to another. “It boils down to people dying from the care that they receive rather than the disease for which they are seeking care,” Makary said. Makary explained that he and co-author Michael Daniel, also from Johns Hopkins, conducted the analysis to shed more light on a problem that many hospitals and health-care facilities try to avoid talking about.
Respiratory disease, accidents, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, flu and pneumonia, kidney disease and suicide round out the leading causes of death in America. Interestingly, medical malpractice and accidents account for almost 400,000 deaths each year in the United State. To term these causes of death as “accidents” is a bit misleading, since many of these incidents are caused by the negligence of a third-party and should more accurately be termed wrongful death. In the case of medical error, the negligence is attributed to the doctor performing below the applicable standard of care which leads to death and should more aptly be termed medical malpractice. In the case of an accident, many times the incident is caused by the negligence of a third-party tortfeasor, which could be a careless automobile driver, negligent premises owner or a person who does something negligent which leads to the death of another.