Medical malpractice often is not fatal. It can still lead to serious injuries and the need for extensive care, but doctors are able to rectify their mistakes.
However, the most serious cases can prove fatal. Before assuming that this is an uncommon occurrence, take a moment to consider just how many lives are lost every year.
Third leading cause of death
Some studies have suggested that medical mistakes are actually the third-leading cause of death in the United States, trailing only heart disease and cancer as No. 1 and No. 2, respectively. These reports claim that the total fatalities every year could range from 250,000 to 440,000.
Experts have always known that doctors make mistakes and that some of these mistakes are bound to be fatal. They even would have said that it happened every day. But many did not expect the problem to be this large, with potentially thousands of deaths every day, year after year.
How these mistakes play out differ from case to case. Sometimes, a doctor makes an error during surgery and loses the patient on the table. Other times, doctors prescribe inaccurate medications and people pass away from diseases that could have been cured. Still other times, errors lead to complications like infections, and those infections then lead to death.
You also have to consider that this high of a fatality rate suggests that many people are suffering from serious injuries and life-altering complications, even if they survive these medical errors. Just living through something like this doesn’t mean that life will ever be the same. Someone who has the wrong limb amputated, for instance, may be disabled for life on account of that error, even if their very life was never in danger.
What can you do?
It is clear that medical mistakes and medical malpractice are more common than many people assume. If something like this happens to you, make sure you know what legal steps you can take. You may need substantial compensation for medical bills, hospital costs, lost wages, the loss of a loved one and much more.