Medical Error is Third Leading Cause of Death

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According to two researchers who published their study in the British Medical Journal, the third leading cause of death in the United States is medical error. A response to the analysis, published in the same journal, says that the results are flawed and misconstrued.

The researchers who oppose the study’s results say that the methodology used was “precarious.” The evidence used in the analysis was taken from differing studies and compared with the country’s top-ranking causes of death. Kaveh G. Shojania and Mary Dixon-Woods, the pair who say that the original study is flawed, say that many others find the numbers difficult to believe.

According to Shojania and Dixon-Woods, a scientist and a professor, there are 700,000 deaths that occur in hospitals throughout the country each year. If the study’s numbers are to be believed, it would mean that more than 200,000 deaths were the result of medical error.

The pair said, “Just as most deaths do not involve medical error, most medical errors do not produce death, but they can still produce substantial morbidity, costs, suffering and distress.”

They do agree that sound scientific methods are necessary in the approach to health threats involving patients. But, they say, the original paper does not contain sound science. Unfortunately, news outlets around the world grabbed hold of the research and published it. This has created a high level of concern that may be unnecessary.

No matter which side is true, even a single medical error resulting in death is one too many. Doctors and other medical professionals must be held accountable for negligence and error. If you or a loved one has been the victim of medical negligence or malpractice, call our office. We will provide you with a free case evaluation and advise you of your options under current New York law.

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