Just exactly how many people die as a result of mistakes in the hospital? It’s a hard figure to put your finger on. It seems to change every year — and not for the better.
Back in 1999, the non-profit, non-government Institute of Medicine estimated that nearly 100,000 people were dying every year because of preventable errors in hospitals. In 2010, the Department of Health and Human Services pegged the rate due to medical mistakes at 180,000. And last year, a study in the Journal of Patient Safety suggested that the death rate could be as high as 440,000.
Whatever the actual number may be, the one certain conclusion that can be drawn is that it is too high. Remember, these deaths are considered to be the result of preventable adverse events — mistakes that should never have happened in the first place.
Another conclusion that possibly could be drawn from this is that a lot of claims of wrongful death resulting from medical negligence are never brought forward, even when the circumstances of the case might indicate that seeking compensation is justified. Otherwise, there would be a lot more news coverage about the issue.
What might be the reasons for that? Well, a few factors may come into play. For one thing, the legal process is complicated. Certain steps have to be followed to evaluate the merits of the case.
If circumstances warrant action, facts of the case need to be assembled, relevant medical records compiled and reviewed by specialists, and witnesses deposed. There is also the need to deal with the insurance company. And on top of all of that, there are deadlines after which action can’t be taken.
Such matters are likely the last thing that a grieving family is thinking about after the loss of a loved one. But building a case and making a claim could be crucial for the family’s long-term welfare.
That being so, anyone with questions about their situation or the legal process required for making a wrongful death claim should not hesitate to contact an experienced attorney. Our firm stands ready to discuss your options. Contact us.