CNN reported on a new study from BMJ suggesting that most medical errors go unobserved, at least in the official record. The study, from doctors at Johns Hopkins, suggests medical mistakes are the third leading cause of death in the United States. That would place medical errors right behind heart disease and cancer. The doctors estimate there are at least 251,454 deaths due to medical errors annually in the United States. The authors believe the number is actually much higher, as home and nursing home deaths are not counted in that total.
We are all aware that America's healthcare system is far from perfect. Hospitals have chosen to reduce the number of nurses that care for patients. Doctors are unable to sometimes spend enough time with patients. There are critical communication breakdowns. Doctors, nurses, and other medical providers face increasing pressure to cut costs from big insurance companies. As a result, healthcare professionals sometimes fail to meet the standards of care that they have an obligation to meet. In the legal world, this is known as medical malpractice.