When individuals in Montana and elsewhere are ill or injured, they often rely on medical experts to determine what is wrong with them and initiate a treatment plan. While it is not uncommon to place much trust in doctors, surgeons and nurses, medical professionals unfortunately do not always make decisions or take actions that benefit the patient. In some cases, medical professional actually cause a patient to suffer worsened conditioned or new ailments because of medical errors.

The fear of being harmed by medical mistakes is real, and preventable medical mistakes occurring in the United States is growing. According to a recent study, statistics suggests that medical mistakes are the third leading cause of death in the U.S. Following heart disease and cancer, medical errors are attributed to roughly 250,000 deaths a year.

When comparing this to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s list of the leading causes of death in the nation, fatal medical mistakes are responsible for more deaths than chronic respiratory disease, which is ranked third on this list. Fatal medical errors include instances where patients received medication they were allergic to and instances where patients died from infections that could have been prevented.

Because there is no good way to measure or record deaths caused by medical errors, this report suggests that their estimated rate of fatalities caused by medical errors is likely low. Because it used studies that documented errors in the patient’s health records, the information for the report was limited. Additionally, this report only considered patients being treated cared for at a hospital. While this report does not capture the full picture of the problems medical errors pose, it is a step in the right direction to better understand the growing problem preventable medical errors are causing patients in the U.S.

Whether is it s medication mistake, a surgical error or medical negligence, when a patient is harmed at a medical facility, he or she might have recourses. An injured patient could file a medical malpractice claim, which could help them recover compensation and offset financial burdens caused by medical bills, lost wages and other related damages.

Source: Los Angeles Times, “Medical errors are No. 3 cause of death in the U.S., after heart disease and cancer,” Deborah Netburn, May 3, 2016