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Medical Malpractice Statistics: Numbers on Doctor Mistakes

By Sean Burke on May 01, 2018

Medical malpractice lawsuitsWhen we visit the doctor or undergo a medical procedure, we expect to receive high-quality care that improves our health. While many routine doctor visits and emergency room visits go without incident, mistakes can happen. If a doctor is too complacent or a member of the medical staff is negligent, it can prove disastrous for patients under their care.

Our Orange County, CA medical malpractice lawyers have helped clients through the many pains and difficulties associated with medical errors. Let’s break down some facts, figures, and numbers about medical mistakes right now. These statistics will be troubling yet illuminating.

Fatalities from Medical Mistakes and Negligence

According to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), medical mistakes are the third leading cause of death in America. This is behind heart disease and cancer, respectively. An estimated 250,000 deaths a year are linked to medical professional errors of various kinds. That’s 10 percent of annual deaths in the United States.

The number could be even higher. A 2011 study by the journal Health Affairs estimated that just over 1 percent of hospital patients die because of medical errors. If applied to 35 million people who enter hospitals on average, that’s a staggering 400,201 fatalities related to medical mistakes.

The Number of Medical Malpractice Payouts

In 2013, Forbes reported that more than $3 billion was spent in medical malpractice payouts in 2012. The report further estimated that there was 1 medical malpractice payout made every 43 minutes.

These sets of statistics should give you an idea of how common these unacceptable medical errors occur every year.

States with the Highest Number of Medical Malpractice Claims

The National Practitioner Databank noted that California, Texas, Florida, and New York were the four states that led in medical malpractice claims. Given the size of each state and their large populations, these findings make sense.

Misdiagnosis and Delayed Diagnosis

A doctor may not properly diagnose a condition, assuming it is a less serious problem or not a problem at all. Incorrect diagnoses mean that patients will not get the medical treatment they need. Delayed diagnosis means doctors do not diagnose a medical problem when symptoms are obviously present. A delayed diagnosis of cancer or other severe conditions could literally mean the difference between life and death.

The journal BMJ Quality & Safety estimates that 12 million Americans are misdiagnosed each year.

Surgical Mistakes

Surgical mistakes could take many forms, including operating on the wrong organ, blood loss during the procedure, and anesthesiologist errors. No mistakes during surgery are acceptable.

Analyzing data from 1990-2010, the journal Surgery estimated roughly 4,000 preventable surgical injuries each year.

Prescription Drug Errors

Doctors may prescribe patients the wrong medicine for their medical problem, or perhaps prescribe a medication that has an adverse reaction with other drugs the patient is taking.

The Patient Safety Network estimates that 700,000 emergency room visits and 100,000 hospitalizations each year are the result of an adverse drug event (ADE).

Birth and Prenatal Injuries

Prenatal care and proper child delivery are crucial for a healthy baby. Errors during pregnancy and childbirth put the lives of the baby and the mother at risk.

The National Healthcare Quality Report estimated roughly 6-8 birth injuries for every 1,000 babies born. That’s around 28,000 birth injuries per year.

Contact the Legal Team of Burke Law

For more information about your legal rights and options following a doctor or surgeon’s costly mistake, be sure to contact an experienced medical malpractice lawyer. Our team is here to help you in your time of legal need, holding medical professionals accountable for their actions.

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