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Medical errors are the third most common cause of death

When Pittsburgh residents go to the doctor, they assume that their doctor will provide them with the best medical care. No one ever anticipates that they will be the victim of a medical mistake. But, according to the recently released annual list of leading causes of death in the United States, the chances of becoming a victim because of a failure to diagnose a medical condition or other medical mistake is actually quite high.

This past week the British Medical Journal (BMJ) estimated that medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States, just behind heart disease and cancer. Unfortunately, death certificates do not list medical errors as a cause of death, which can make it hard to have the true number reported. The authors of the study used quite a bit of analysis to come up with what they believe to be an understated number of 250,000 Americans who die from medical errors each year.

For patients, this means that many times they are not receiving an accurate diagnosis or a treatment plan that will help them. An inaccurate diagnosis can cause serious injuries or even death for a patient.

If a patient believes they were harmed because of the failure to diagnose their medical condition or another medical error, they may want to speak with a legal professional skilled in medical malpractice. An attorney can review medical records and consult with medical experts to get the answers the patient deserves. Compensation may be available for medical expenses, pain and suffering and other damages.

It is shocking that medical errors can play such a huge part in a person's life. It is important for patients to remain vigilant in their care and hold their doctor responsible for any mistakes they may make.

Source: BMJ.com, "Medical error-the third leading cause of death in the US," accessed on May 10, 2016

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