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Just how dangerous are medical errors believed to be?

A recent Johns Hopkins School of Medicine study suggests that medical errors rank third among the many different risk factors believed to cause death in the United States. In fact, it's believed that doctor or surgical errors results in as many as 251,000 patient deaths each year in the U.S. alone. This means that 10 percent of the U.S. deaths can be blamed on physician errors.

The risk of a patient falling victim to some incident of medical error is only surpassed by heart disease and cancer. Just under 615,000 Americans die of heart disease every year. Just over 591,000 die of cancer.

After heart disease and cancer, there are seven remaining medical conditions that are believed to rank highest for resulting in patient deaths each year. Accidents, respiratory illness and stroke are each believed to be half as threatening as doctor errors for causing patient death. Conditions like Alzheimer's disease, pneumonia, the flu, diabetes, kidney disease and suicide result in 95,000 or less American's deaths each year.

Researchers found that instances of medical error don't just happen because physicians unilaterally make mistakes, but also when patients are transferred between providers and proper instructions aren't provided.

Another study, conducted by Harvard University, suggests that, in recent years, doctor error death rates have been slow to decrease. They, however, noted that patient death rates that can be attributed to hospital-acquired infections has shown some signs of a decrease.

If you've lost a loved one to a medical error, then a San Bernardino attorney may advise you of your right to recover lost future wages, medical costs and funeral expenses related to his or her demise.

Source: The Washington Post, "Researchers: Medical errors now third leading cause of death in United States," Ariana Eunjung Cha, accessed Dec. 15, 2017

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