Heart disease and cancer are easily the top two causes of death in the United States, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. The third leading cause of death, contributing more than one-quarter of a million fatalities a year, is medical errors. The study calculated that 9.5 percent of deaths in this country, or 251,454, were the result of mistakes made by doctors, nurses and other health care workers. The prominent position of medical mistakes may come as a surprise to many, as the health care industry works hard to downplay their prevalence.
The Help Efficient, Accessible, Low-cost, Timely Healthcare (HEALTH) Act of 2016 has come under fire from the American Bar Association. According to the ABA, states have had the authority to determine medical liability law for over 200 years. The HEALTH ACT seeks to eliminate the rights of states to determine medical liability law in numerous ways which would make it harder for patients harmed by medical malpractice to pursue a lawsuit and obtain fair compensation.
Medical testing equipment is a significant investment. Hospitals and clinics purchasing this equipment face substantial pressure to justify the expense by keeping the machines busy. This requires a steady stream of patients getting tested for various health conditions. Some clinics have responded to this pressure by advertising the tests directly to the public, without waiting for a physician to recommend the tests based on actual symptoms. The problem with this is that testing is not a no-risk proposition. Besides the worthless expense for many people, there are health risks to undergoing many medical tests. That risk is only acceptable when there are actual medical signs that the underlying problem may exist.
The World Health Organization suggests that the optimal rate for Cesarean section births is somewhere between 5 and 10 percent. At the turn of the century, the rate of C-section births began to rise sharply. By 2009, almost one-third of the babies born in this country came by Cesarean section. The number has declined slightly since then. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that 32.8 percent of deliveries came by Cesarean in 2012. A recent study conducted by the University of Minnesota suggests that Cesarean rates are the result of hospital culture, rather than the medical needs of the mother or infant.
At the very least, medical care is meant to protect patients from unnecessary injury or illness. We generally expect medical treatment to improve our health rather than harm it. However, in many cases, medical mistakes cause injuries and other medical problems that are not related to the patient's underlying condition.
It's an uncomfortable and common experience among patients: leaving a clinic or a doctor's office and not feeling reassured, but rather feeling uncertain about the diagnosis and proposed treatment. Maybe the doctor didn't fully explain something, or maybe the patient was reticent to ask a question.
People who are in pain may find relief in the hands of their physicians. However, when the physician overlooks a major problem, this can make the patient's health problems worse, causing permanent injuries as well as emotional distress. In extraordinary circumstances, the patient may end up taking his or her life as a result of the alleged medical malpractice. If this occurs, the victim's family members may choose to try to hold the offending physician accountable for his or her negligent medical treatment in Illinois.
In the last 15 years, studies of U.S. hospitals have revealed a disturbing frequency of patient deaths resulting from medical mistakes that could have been prevented. According to a 1999 report from the Institute of Medicine, the annual number of deaths caused by preventable hospital errors was estimated to be as high as 98,000.
A pain reliever many people consider harmless can cause liver failure and even death if taken in excess. To reduce the number of dangerous overdoses of acetaminophen, the Food and Drug Administration has recommended that doctors put an end to prescriptions for certain combination drugs. A combination drug is a pain medication that combines acetaminophen with an opioid. Popular pain relievers such as Percocet, Vicodin and codeine are often mixed with acetaminophen to improve their pain-relieving effect. Unfortunately, many patients are unaware of the presence of acetaminophen in these drugs and are augmenting them with over the counter drugs such as Tylenol. The results can be deadly.
The cost of health care in the United States is unprecedented on a global scale. Among the most commonly cited reasons for the expense of health care here is the cost of medical malpractice insurance. Politicians and many in the medical industry like to point the finger at medical malpractice claims and insurance necessary to protect against them as the reason care is so expensive here. The numbers do not support this argument.