Medical negligence is the third leading cause of death, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), just behind heart disease and cancer. Nonetheless, there is a lot of confusion and misinformation circulating regarding medical errors and medical malpractice. Although insurance companies and health care providers may try to minimize the impact that medical errors have on health care, in reality, some of the statistics regarding medical malpractice are quite alarming. The latest numbers indicate that between 210,000 and 440,000 patients die each year due to some type of preventable harm, with misdiagnosis and medication errors as the leading causes of medical negligence. Misdiagnosis accounts for an estimated 10 to 20 percent of medical malpractice cases involving a diagnostic error. Missed diagnosis or delayed diagnosis can occur in either the hospital setting or a doctor’s office. In either case, serious injuries and medical complications can result. In fact, according to a 2009 report, 28 percent of 583 diagnostic mistakes reported anonymously by doctors were life-threatening or had resulted in death or permanent disability. Additionally, approximately 1.3 million people are injured in the United States each year from medication errors, which according to the National Coordinating Council for Medication Error Reporting and Prevention, are defined as “any preventable event that may cause or lead to inappropriate medication use or patient harm while the medication is in the control of the health care professional, patient, or consumer…related to professional practice, health care products, procedures, and systems, including prescribing; order communication; product labeling, packaging, and nomenclature; compounding; dispensing; distribution; administration; education; monitoring; and use.” Surgical errors are also a leading cause of medical malpractice, with approximately 80 surgical “never events” – such as surgical instruments left inside the patient and the wrong surgery performed – occurring every week. According to research conducted by Johns Hopkins University, surgical “never events” happen at least 4,000 times a year in the United States and more than 80,000 “never events” occurred between 1990 and 2010. Common types of surgical “never events” include: instruments unintentionally left behind in the patient, wrong procedure performed, wrong surgical site, and surgery performed on the wrong patient. Given the alarming rate of medical errors, it is important that patients take a proactive role in their own health care in order to reduce the likelihood of becoming a victim of medical negligence. For instance, patients should get a second opinion, regularly review their medical records, and ask questions. If you think that you or a loved one may have been the victim of medical negligence, it is important to consult with a medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible. A medical malpractice lawyer will be able to conduct a thorough investigation regarding the events that led to your injuries, can help you understand your legal rights and options, and will fight to get you maximum money damages from all negligent parties. The Chicago personal injury lawyers at Steinberg, Goodman & Kalish focus on representing accident and injury victims, including those who were injured as a result of negligence. Contact our office at (312) 445-9084 to schedule a free consultation to learn more about a possible medical malpractice claim. Steinberg Goodman & Kalish (www.sgklawyers.com) is dedicated to protecting victims and their families. We handle medical malpractice, product liability, personal injury, wrongful death, auto accidents, professional negligence, birth trauma, and railroad law matters. Contact us at (888) 325-7299 or (312) 445-9084.