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Medical malpractice death shown to be a common issue

Recent research has shined a light on the frequency of people who die because of medical malpractice. This is an issue that can affect people in Illinois and throughout the U.S., and other studies have corroborated the determination that the number of death claims are the most frequently issued claims of hospital liability. This study was completed by an insurance company even before the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine study as to the commonality of death of a patient due to a medical mistake.

The insurance study indicated that in cases closed between January of 2005 and December 2014, patient death was the most common result. The Johns Hopkins study found that more than 250,000 people die due to medical mistakes every year. This equates to the third highest cause of death overall. In that study, the fatal mistakes that were predominate stemmed from poor coordination, insurance networks that were not well connected, the failure to have proper safety procedures and protocol, and lapses in accountability.

The insurance study was conducted by a Chicago-based company, and it discovered that death happens more than 34 percent of the time after a medical mistake. The problem most often cited when there is a patient death is improper care. Next is a mistake in diagnosis or with medication. In its study of closed claims, the percentages of fatality after a mistake are the following: an emergency department mistake is 47.7 percent; medication errors are 48.1 percent; medicine patient and ambulatory care end in death in slightly more than half of the claims; and pressure sores come to just shy of 42 percent of the closed cases.

Communication problems are one of the major factors in these errors and eventual medical malpractice death. Proper communication is specifically important in an emergency department where time is of the essence and the situation can be chaotic. Amid tactics to improve the standard of care, like better training, using a chain of command, and the development of diagnostic techniques and follow-ups, these statistics are still troubling. Those who believe that a loved one was a victim of a medical error and died as a result need to make certain that a full investigation is conducted and evidence acquired to consider a legal case. Speaking to an attorney is the first step to moving forward with a claim.

Source: Insurance Journal, "Insurer's Hospital Claims Study Corroborates High Death Risk from Medical Errors," May 10, 2016

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