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Deaths by medical malpractice third only to cancer, heart disease

California patients tend to trust the diagnoses rendered by their physicians, but it is very possible that much of that trust is misplaced. Medical mistakes -- including misdiagnoses or the complete failure to render any diagnosis at all -- are now the third most common type of death in the United States. With such high rates of death, it is also likely that there are untold numbers of patients who are still unaware that they were victims of medical malpractice.

Medical errors only come in third behind cancer and heart disease. While causes of death are not strictly recorded as medical errors, experts on the matter conducted a study that linked a third of all deaths back to mistakes made by medical professionals. The study was based on data from death rates that spanned a recent eight-year period.

The lead researcher noted that the current medical system creates an environment in which mistakes are often overlooked and safety nets are otherwise nonexistent. He believes miscommunication within the health care system is just one of the many barriers that prevent patients from receiving the care -- and the diagnoses -- that they truly need. While advocating for improving the current system, the researcher pointed to the funding that both cancer and heart disease receive and questioned why the third most common cause of death does not receive the same attention or preventative funding.

Prescribing the wrong medication, misdiagnosing a patient and otherwise being generally negligent in providing care are all examples of medical errors that contribute to patients' injuries and deaths. Patients in California should be able to expect the correct care and treatment for their medical concerns, but this is simply not the reality  in every situation. Victims usually turn to medical malpractice claims after discovering that their injuries were the direct result of physician errors. This move is usually successful at rendering compensation for medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering.

Source: kob.com, "Study: Medical mistakes 3rd-leading cause of death in U.S.", July 21, 2016

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