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Medical Errors Result in a Staggering Number of Deaths Each Year

Written by Tom Crosley
Catastrophic Personal Injury

Recent research from the Journal of Patient Safety indicates that as many as 440,000 Americans may be killed each year by preventable medical errors, a number much higher than previously thought. That’s roughly a third of the population of San Antonio — every year. Based on recent studies and estimates, preventable medical errors may be the third leading cause of death in the United States and may be responsible for wasting billions and billions of dollars a year.

The 2013 study from the Journal of Patient Safety shows that the number of deaths is four times higher than previously thought; it also highlights the types and frequency of these errors. Prominent types of errors included leaving equipment such as sponges inside surgical patients, miscalculating the doses of injected medication, and using contaminated equipment. If the number of people dying every year isn’t alarming enough, the fact that we are paying for it should. The extra cost of errors is piled onto the patient, the business, and/or the taxpayer that pays for the health benefits for that individual. In many ways, you aren’t just paying for treatment — you are paying for preventable mistakes.

Just last year, an Arlington man, Glenn Hermes, learned that he had cancer in one kidney. Checking into Plaza Medical Center in Fort Worth, he agreed to have his left kidney removed to avoid the spread of this disease. Soon, Hermes learned that a CT scan had been misread and that the wrong kidney had been removed. Instead of having a relatively straightforward medical issue resolved, his life has been thrown into turmoil. With limited kidney function, he has been unsure of what the future will hold.

“I’m getting to the point where I should be enjoying life and thinking about retirement and not thinking about a transplant,” Hermes said. “It’s pretty emotional.”

Hermes is seeking over $1 million in damages. Darrel Keith, an attorney representing Hermes, said the lawsuit should send a message to doctors to be more careful.

This is just one recent example of a horrific medical error, one that, luckily, didn’t result in death, but it very well could have. Take Justice Back, a grassroots campaign launched by the American Association for Justice (AAJ), seeks to restore accountability, promote safety, and ensure that Americans have access to justice when dealing with large corporations. During the month of May, they focused on this issue of medical errors by providing education for the public and raising awareness of the harmful and very costly impact of this problem.

At Crosley Law Firm, we have extensive experience dealing with patients injured by medical mistakes. Crosley has worked with dozen of patients who have dealt with medical errors like failure to diagnose bacterial meningitis, leaving surgical equipment inside a patient, and mistakes made during gastric bypass surgery.

You shouldn’t be held responsible for a medical error. For more information pertaining to Crosley’s experience dealing with these type of cases, visit the Practice Area content on our website.


Binder, L. (2013, September 23). Stunning news on preventable deaths in hospitals. Forbes. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/leahbinder/2013/09/23/stunning-news-on-preventable-deaths-in-hospitals/

Campbell, E. (2014, June 12). Arlington family files malpractice suit after wrong kidney removed. Star-Telegram. Retrieved from http://www.star-telegram.com/2014/06/11/5893406/family-files-suit-after-wrong.html

James, J. T. (2013, September). A new, evidence-based estimate of patient harms associated with hospital care. Journal of Patient Safety 9(3), 122-128. Retrieved from: http://journals.lww.com/

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