The Cook & Tolley Blog

The high death rate of medical malpractice

Americans live in the most advanced era of medical technology in history. The accelerated pace of improved surgery techniques, new drugs and an enhanced understanding of the body herald breakthroughs in nearly every field of medicine today.

Some medical puzzles remain challenging and devastating. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention publishes an annual list of the top 10 causes of death in America.

Latest statistics for mortality causation

According to the CDC’s latest report, issued in 2017, the top two causes of death are heart disease, followed by cancer. The third leading cause, unintentional accidents, accounts for 161,374 deaths. The causes listed by the CDC appear in order of highest to lowest rates of mortality:

  • Heart disease: 635,260
  • Cancer: 598,038
  • Accidents (unintentional injuries): 161,374
  • Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 154,596
  • Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 142,142
  • Alzheimer’s disease: 116,103
  • Diabetes: 80,058
  • Influenza and pneumonia: 51,537
  • Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome and nephrosis: 50,046
  • Intentional self-harm (suicide): 44,965

The list can appear informative, but more to the point, the CDC’s statistics are used to allocate staggering amounts of money to fund research targeting the top-listed causes of death.

The CDC does not list the actual third leading cause of death

The American public may not be aware of omission on the CDC’s mortality lists. The CDC, despite urging from world-renowned Johns Hopkins Medicine researchers, does not include the true third leading cause of death. In a landmark study, Johns Hopkins medical research team revealed that medical errors are the true third leading cause of mortality. Their eight-year study showed approximately 250,000 people die each year from medical mistakes—a number that is 155% higher than the CDC’s third-place listing of 160,000 accident-related deaths.

The CDC does not recognize or publish the real devastation of medical malpractice fatalities. Death certificates used by the CDC for data do not explicitly document medical errors as an additional contributing factor to mortality. The CDC could access the information from other sources apart from death certificates; Johns Hopkins researchers have already done the work. In addition, Johns Hopkins issued an open letter, urging the CDC to immediately add medical errors to its annual mortality list, but the CDC ignored this.

Americans may feel outraged to learn of the CDC’s omission of this critical data because, not only does it show the tremendous, horrific impact of medical malpractice, it also diverts funding away from critical research that could help lower the number of medical errors. Patients and families hurt or fatally injured can exercise their right to recover compensation. Americans may be able to expose medical malpractice by exacting financial accountability from professionals and medical institutions that are guilty of sweeping negligence under the carpet.

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