Protecting Patients Against Medical Errors: No. 3 Cause of Death

Attorneys representing victims of medical malpractice often face discrimination from a skeptical public who cast a blanket judgement believing lawsuits are simply fueled by opportunists and are generally frivolous. However, an independent study by researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine identifies medical errors as the third leading cause of death in the United States, following heart disease and cancer.


The study discloses a disturbing flaw in the system for tracking and reporting errors. Even if a medical error is the cause of death, only the underlying disease being treated will be listed as the cause of death on a death certificate. This means that many times, families and victims of medical malpractice are not made aware that negligence, misdiagnosis or a medical error was the true cause of death. This egregious disparity favors doctors at the expense of patients’ rights.


According to the NPR article, “The Johns Hopkins authors said the inability to capture the full impact of medical errors results in a lack of public attention and a failure to invest in research. They called for adding a new question to death certificates specifically asking if a preventable complication of care contributed.”


The idea that preventable medical errors cause an estimated 250,000 deaths a year is tragic and these staggering statistics should debunk any myths about medical malpractice litigation. The rate of medical errors is an epidemic in itself and a growing threat to patient safety. With reporting trends favoring doctors, sometimes the only recourse to illuminate negligent behavior by doctors and hospitals is through medical malpractice litigation.


Domnick Cunningham & Yaffa is dedicated to protecting victims of medical malpractice. If you have questions about medical errors, or if you have a family member who has been a victim of negligence, please contact Domnick Cunningham & Yaffa for information. To arrange a consultation, please call us at (877) 471-7619, or visit our website today at