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Pharmaceuticals and the dangers of medical malpractice

Maryland readers know how dangerous medical errors are. From unexpected complications during surgery to infections and misdiagnosis, every year hundreds of thousands of Americans die from medical mistakes. In fact, according to a recent report published in The Washington Times, statistically medical errors, such as doctor errors, medication errors and hospital negligence are the third leading cause of death in the United States.

The Journal of Patient Safety estimated that somewhere between 400,000 and 425,000 Americans die due to medical errors every year. These numbers place medical errors just behind cancer and heart disease as the leading cause of death in the U.S. One of the major factors contributing to the high rate of deaths due to medical error and hospital negligence in the U.S. may be the result of the prevalence of pharmaceutical usage in the U.S., which can lead to illness and death when errors occur.

In 2000, the Journal of the American Medical Association printed an article highlighting the high number of deaths from medical error in the U.S. The article found that the number of deaths from non-error adverse effects to medication totaled 106,000 annually, while hospital infection deaths equaled 80,000, death from hospital error totaled 45,000, death from unnecessary surgery totaled 12,000 and death from medication error, 7,000.

A medical error is a serious event that can have devastating consequences for those involved. While there are many cases where a poor reaction to a pharmaceutical is not the result of physician error, when doctor error is the root cause, patients may be entitled to damages for the harm that results.

Source: The Washington Times, "Are medical errors the third leading cause of death? " Paul Mountjoy, Sept. 29, 2013

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