Call Us 24/7 · (844) 632-7274

Knowledge. Experience. Results.
Maryland Personal Injury Attorneys

Michael J. Schreyer, JD
Founding Partner
Andrew D. Alpert, JD
Founding Partner

Study finds medical errors to be third leading cause of death

By Alpert Schreyer on June 2, 2016

Medical errorsA recent study exposed medical errors as the third leading cause of death in the United States. Surpassed in lethality only by heart disease and cancer, preventable medical errors kill upwards of 251,000 patients per year.

A synthesis of four large studies published in The BMJ (formerly known as the British Medical Journal) and written by researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of medicine, the meta-study shows that medical errors are underreported, hidden, and seldom discussed — doctors do not want to talk about the mistakes they’ve made.

Shockingly, even when a patient’s death is clearly the result of medical error, it is not listed as the cause of death on death certificates.

Heavy secrets

Hospitals guard too tightly the details of cases of fatal medical mistakes, he said: if there was open communication about fatal mishaps, medical professionals would have a greater opportunity to learn about what commonly goes wrong and know what to look out for.

According to the study, “Medical error has been defined as an unintended act (either of omission or commission) or one that does not achieve its intended outcome, the failure of a planned action to be completed as intended (an error of execution), the use of a wrong plan to achieve an aim (an error of planning), or a deviation from the process of care that may or may not cause harm to the patient.”

Martin Makary, one of the study’s leading researchers, told the Washington Post that the deaths counted in the study include those caused by bad doctors as well as systemic issues such as breakdowns in communication when a patient is transferred to another department in a medical facility.

Makary stressed the urgent need for healthcare facilities to establish standardized methods for reporting medical errors so that nationwide patterns can be exposed, paving the way for hospitals to potentially be regulated as the aviation industry is. It’s a matter of public safety, he said: and, as his report exposes, an extremely urgent one.

A new taxonomy, better data, and new systems

The study talks about a “new taxonomy” that could enable better reporting and therefore better data to help guide national efforts to reduce the number of preventable deaths from medical error.

Recognizing human fallibility and the inevitability of some error, hospitals should bring instances of medical error into the open so staff can learn from them and be better prepared to handle a situation when an error occurs so the patient might be saved. Principles that “take human limitations into account” should become the new standard, the authors state.

Even in a system that may fail to do so, medical practitioners can be held accountable for errors that result from their negligence. When a patient is hurt rather than helped by a health care provider, there may be grounds for a medical malpractice case.

If you believe that you or a loved one may have grounds for a personal injury case that involves medical malpractice, call the experienced personal injury attorneys at Alpert Schreyer, LLC for your free case evaluation. We will listen to you, review your case, and get you the compensation you deserve.


Free Case

(844) 632-7274

Free Case Evaluation Form

If you’ve been injured in an accident, contact the law firm of Alpert Schreyer, LLC. Our experienced, tenacious attorneys will help you achieve the best possible outcome in your case.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

(844) 632-7274

(844) 632-7274

We have multiple offices in Maryland to assist you with your case. Click on any of our five office locations for address info and directions.

Bethesda, MD Frederick, MD Lexington Park, MD Bowie, MD Waldorf, MD

Serving All of Maryland and D.C. for over 25 Years
Find an office near you

Alpert Schreyer, LLC Disclaimer: The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters and electronic mail. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established. This web site is not intended to solicit clients for matters outside of the state of Maryland.

Alpert Schreyer, LLC in Waldorf represents personal injury clients throughout Maryland, including those in Bowie, Annapolis, Prince Frederick, Upper Marlboro La Plata, Bethesda and Leonardtown located in Charles County, Prince George’s County, St. Mary’s County, Calvert County and Montgomery County.

© by Alpert Schreyer, LLC. Bowie Workers’ Compensation Attorneys, Waldorf Personal Injury Lawyers and Southern Maryland Car Accident Lawyers. All Rights Reserved.| Law Firm SEO by

The ultimate resolution of my case has been excellent, far better than I could have imagined. I couldn't recommend anyone more highly.
Maryland Injury Case
Date published: 09/06/2018
5 / 5 stars