For years, the leading causes of death in the United States have been heart disease, cancer, respiratory illnesses and accidents. Until very recently, the metrics did not include those who perished due to easily preventable causes, such as medical mistakes. Physicians in New Mexico and around the country are now paying more attention to the findings that indicate medical malpractice is the third most prevalent cause of death in this country.

A recent study by patient safety researchers from Johns Hopkins University and other institutions paints a grim picture. Medical errors account for approximately 251,000 deaths every year in the United States. That number is greater than that of accidents, strokes, respiratory disease and Alzheimer’s. The reasons for errors are many, including the communication breakdown between various health care entities as patients move from one to another.

A factor that presented difficulties for researchers is that reports of deaths due to medical mistakes are not regularly provided by hospitals or other medical facilities. Many facilities fail to report these cases because they are concerned about the loss of funding or about how the facilities may suffer. Thus, many deaths due to medical errors are not reported or become convoluted in attempts to protect the integrity of institutions.

Fundamentally, the health care system in the United States is a conglomeration of various entities. Communication between all of them is getting better, but it is not yet fully synced, and, until it is, medical mistakes will continue to occur. Victims and family members who have faced disastrous consequences from medical mistakes may benefit from contacting attorneys who are well-versed in the specific medical malpractice laws in the state of New Mexico. An attorney can discuss the various legal options available when confronted with a death caused by medical errors.

Source: The Washington Post, “Researchers: Medical errors now third leading cause of death in United States“, Ariana Eunjung Cha, May 3, 2016