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Just how common are fatal medical errors? Study may surprise you

Hospitals and other healthcare providers have long asserted that preventable medical errors are rare, and that they usually have minimal impact on patient health. But is that true?

It turns out that the rate of medical errors - including fatal errors - is not easy to track. Many medical forms don't include questions about such information, and even if they did, doctors and nurses would be reluctant to report it.

Studies that have tried to estimate the number of injurious and fatal medical errors vary in their findings. But the consensus seems to be that errors are more common than hospitals would have us believe. And according to one recent study, fatal medical errors may actually be the third-leading cause of death in the United States.

A study from Johns Hopkins recently revealed that there are at least 251,454 deaths each year caused by medical errors. The number of deaths could actually be much higher, because the estimate excluded data from in-home care and nursing home care.

The John Hopkins study suggests that the death rate is much higher than previous studies have. If verified, the number of deaths caused by preventable medical errors ranks third behind heart disease and cancer.

Doctors are human, and humans inevitably make mistakes. But how many mistakes are being made? And how often do they result in death or serious injury? The fact that these questions cannot accurately be answered is simply unacceptable.

If you or a loved one has suffered serious health problems due to what may have been a medical error, please share your story with an experienced medical malpractice attorney.

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