A study out of Johns Hopkins finds that deaths connected to medical errors are much higher than previously thought. Experts with the study calculate that over 250,000 deaths are the result of medical errors every year in the United States.

This finding is significant as it bumps medical error-related deaths up to the third most common cause of death in the country.

What exactly is a medical error-related death? Death and injury related to medical error can be connected to a wide spectrum of issues. Although poor medical care from a physician or other medical professional can qualify, additional causes can also lead to injury. This can include systemic problems, a lack of proper protocols within the medical facility, and issues with insurance.

Why are these findings different? It is important to note that these numbers vary from previous statistics released by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The difference is attributed to the difficulty in determining the cause of death. Death certificates do not generally have an option for medical error as a cause of death. As a result, not every medical error-related death is properly recorded.

The researchers with the Johns Hopkins study attempted to account for this oversight by digging into hospital admission rates. This information was used to help calculate a more accurate number of deaths connected to medical issues.

Why is it important to have accurate statistics? A publication by Johns Hopkins University discussing the research explains the importance of accurate statistics. Statistics like these are used to determine how research funds are distributed. Researchers hope that with more accurate data about medical errors, more research can be conducted to help reduce the number of patients who suffer from harm due to poor medical treatment.

What can I do if a loved one is the victim of a medical error-related death? Medical errors can result in serious injuries that require additional treatment or death to the patient. In either case, compensation may be available to help cover the costs associated with the error through a medical malpractice suit.

Those who are in this situation may be unsure of whether or not they have a case, or whether it is worth pursuing the case. In these situations, it is wise to contact an experienced attorney to go over your options and ensure you make the decision that is right for your family.