In the United States, most people who are sick or injured put their trust in the medical world for physical recovery. Some of the most vulnerable people in society, the very young, weak, sick or elderly, are dependent on doctors and nurses for their survival. However, even in hospitals and doctors’ offices, there is a chance of misdiagnosis or other medical error. According to the Washington state insurance commissioner, over $64 million was paid to victims of medical malpractice in that state alone. While that amount was lower than the previous year for Washington, the trend of medical errors is increasing, rather than decreasing, across the country.
It is well known that heart disease and cancer are the leading causes of death in the United States. However, according to the Washington Post, medical error may now be third on the list. It is estimated that over 250,000 people die each year as a direct result of mistakes made by medical professionals. These range from inadequate communication between departments or offices that result in mistreatments, to individual doctor errors.
The exact statistics regarding medical malpractice are difficult to track due to the privacy granted to the medical field. Additionally, health care facilities are not held to a universal standard of practice and care. Some people argue that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention should intensify their requirements for hospitals and other facilities. Reporting errors that occur may allow medical professionals to learn from the mistakes of others, thereby minimizing the chances of repeating them. Giving an account of errors that do occur may also create greater accountability.