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Medical Error Now the Third Leading Cause of Death in the U.S.

Medical Error Now the Third Leading Cause of Death in the U.S.

A study published by the BMJ (formerly the British Medical Journal) on May 3, 2016 reports research findings that medical error is now the third leading cause of death in the United States.

The study, conducted by doctors at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland, suggests that medical errors now kill more people than lower respiratory diseases like emphysema and bronchitis, moving medical error up to the third leading cause of death, right behind heart disease and cancer.

Through their analysis of four other studies examining death rate information, the Johns Hopkins report estimates there are at least 251,454 annual deaths due to medical errors in the United States.

The number of deaths translates to 9.5% of all deaths each year in the U.S. climbing dramatically from the 44,000 estimated in the 2000 Institute of Medicine report “To Err Is Human.”

The Johns Hopkins research includes everything from doctor error to more systemic issues such as communication breakdown occurring when patients are handed off from one department to another.

The authors believe the number is actually much higher, as medical errors taking place in doctors’ offices, homes and nursing homes are not counted in that total. Additionally, accurate transparent information about medical errors is not currently captured on death certificates, which are the documents the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) uses for ranking causes of death and setting health priorities.

According to Medical Malpractice attorney Eileen Kroll, a Partner in the law firm of Cochran, Kroll & Associates in Livonia, Michigan, “One of the most important aspects of this new report is that physicians are starting to recognize the impact medical errors have on human life and are actually urging the CDC to adopt ‘medical error’ as a legitimate cause of death, hopefully shining a light on this increasing problem and forcing hospitals and health care providers to enact and enforce improved safety standards.”

“A medical error,” states Kroll, who is also a Registered Nurse, “is any preventable complication stemming from a patient’s care, whether or not it is immediately evident or harmful to a patient. Medical malpractice occurs when a doctor, nurse, hospital or other medical provider makes a medical error which is contrary to the standard of care.”

Despite the frequency and severity of preventable medical errors, the state government and Michigan Courts have made the filing of Medical Malpractice claims exceedingly complicated, complex and expensive.

That is why it is essential to contact medical malpractice attorneys Cochran, Kroll & Associates, a highly experienced and uniquely qualified law firm, to investigate harm to yourself or a loved one as a result of a doctor or hospital’s medical error and to help navigate you through the complex legal process.

Eileen Kroll focuses her caseload on medical malpractice issues. She earned her BS in Nursing from Madonna University and her law degree from University of Detroit.

If you, or someone you know, have been the victim of medical error, please contact our office for a free, confidential review of your potential claim. You could be entitled to financial compensation.

Taken to Emergency, Infant Is Allowed To Die From Dehydration

A verdict was awarded in 7th Circuit Court of Genesee County for the case of an infant that was taken to the emergency room, but allowed to die from dehydration.

A reasonable person would not think it possible that in this day and age a baby could die of dehydration while actually being in a hospital.

But that is what happened to a seven-week-old infant who was taken to the emergency room of Hurley Hospital in Flint, Michigan for treatment and died when allowed to dehydrate.

Because the mother was born with cerebral palsy and scoliosis and did not think she would ever have children, she and her boyfriend were thrilled to be parents and considered their son to be a “miracle baby.” But because of a difficult delivery, the mother decided to have her tubes tied after the C-section delivery.

A few weeks after birth, the infant developed cold symptoms, diarrhea and then nausea. After a consultation with the pediatrician, he was taken to the emergency room of Hurley Hospital by paramedics who while transporting him noticed signs of dehydration.

In the emergency room, he was assigned to the care of Dr. Patrick Hawley who examined the infant. He did not properly evaluate for the early signs and symptoms of dehydration, and released the seven-week-old baby from the emergency room without any treatment because he “looked normal.”

The baby returned home with his parents who were advised to let the illness “run its course.” Two days later the parents called 911 and their son was transported to Hurley and was pronounced dead shortly after arrival. The subsequent autopsy revealed he died from “severe dehydration.”

A civil lawsuit was filed against Dr. Hawley who was found to be negligent, causing a wrongful death, and ordered to pay damages totaling approximately $930,000. The case was heard in the 7th Circuit Court of Genesee County with presiding judge Geoffrey Neithercut announcing the jury’s verdict on May 15, 2015.

“Every ER expert you hear from will tell you that a baby who is dehydrated may look normal,” said Eileen Kroll, attorney for the plaintiffs. “That is why you can’t judge a book by its cover. You have to dig deeper than how the infant looks. You have to look for specific things like decreased tears and decreased urine.”

Kroll, the lead attorney, is a partner in the firm of Cochran, Kroll & Associates in Livonia, MI, with an office in Flint. Kroll is a Registered Nurse who worked in a surgical intensive care unit at a major Detroit hospital before becoming an attorney. Laura Johnson, an associate at Cochran, Kroll & Associates, assisted Kroll in trying the case.

There are news articles in abundance about how many children die of dehydration and the numbers are staggering – about 2 million children under age 2 per year, stresses Kroll. “But even more staggering is these deaths don’t occur here. They occur in third world countries where they don’t have fully equipped hospitals or ER departments.

“But this infant was not in a third world country,” Kroll adds. “He was in Flint, Michigan, at a major hospital that is a level one trauma center. But he only got five minutes in a very busy ER by a doctor who was nearing the end of his shift. And that doctor did not do an accurate history and did not do an accurate assessment for early signs of mild dehydration.”

In her closing arguments to the jury, Kroll said: “In the English language there are orphans and widows. But there is no word for a mother who loses her son.”

Born in Livonia, Kroll earned her BS in Nursing from Madonna University and her law degree from University of Detroit. She specializes in medical and nursing malpractice.

Medication Error with Dennis Quaid’s Children Could Have Been Avoided

The accidental overdose of actor Dennis Quaid’s newborn twins is one of about 1.5 million medical mistakes made in the U.S. every year.

And, according to a United States Pharmacopeia study released in March 2007, children are almost three times as likely as adults to be harmed by medical mistakes.

The Quaid twins, Thomas Boone and Zoe Grace, were given 1,000 times the normal concentration of heparin, a blood thinner used to prevent clots, at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, on November 19, 2007. The twins were born Nov. 8.

The Quaids filed a lawsuit December 4 against the makers of heparin claiming Baxter Healthcare Corp. was negligent in packaging different doses of the drug in similar vials with blue backgrounds.

Sadly, the massive overdose to the Quaid twins is but one of thousands of mistakes made by doctors and medical staff every day.

“If the life of the Quaid twins can be put in peril by a massive overdose at such a renowned hospital, we must wonder how safe are the more anonymous babies lying in hospital nurseries less reputable than Cedars Sinai,” says Cochran, Kroll & Associates, one of Michigan’s leading medical malpractice attorneys.

Cochran, Kroll & Associates won a $15.8 million verdict, the largest in Michigan for 2006, for a medical error to a baby causing Cerebral Palsy, recovered $1.2 million on behalf of a baby born with Spina Bifida, and recovered $900,000 for the parents of a baby born with Down Syndrome.

Last year, three babies died at an Indianapolis hospital after a pharmacy technician stocked a medicine cabinet with vials containing heparin with a concentration 1,000 times stronger than what was normally kept there. Nurses didn’t check the label and administered the wrong dosage. The Quaid lawsuit filed Dec. 4 says Baxter Healthcare should have recalled the large-dosage vials after the Indianapolis deaths.

The Institute for Safe Medication Practices lists anti-coagulants, including heparin, as high-alert medications, because they have “a heightened risk of causing significant patient harm” when used in error.”

The Quaid twins survived the massive overdose and are now doing well, according to a family spokesman, but too many similar victims are not as fortunate.

“Most people do not realize that more than 700,000 Americans die each year because of medical mistakes,” stressed Cochran, Kroll & Associates. “Victims need an attorney to uncover the truth because most medical malpractice mistakes are covered up by doctors and hospitals.”