While heart disease and cancer cause the most deaths each year in the United States, medical mistakes, including surgical errors and misdiagnoses, are the third leading cause of death, claiming 250,000 lives each year, according to a study by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

The study’s authors say medical errors are responsible for roughly 10% of all deaths annually, and the continued high death toll suggests patient safety efforts by hospitals and other health care organizations continue to fall short.

What are the most common types of medical mistakes?

Medical malpractice claims arise for a variety of reasons, including:

  • Surgical errors
  • Misdiagnosis or lack of diagnosis
  • Birth injuries
  • Prescription drug errors
  • Failure to treat

Illinois is near the top of the list in malpractice payouts

A study examining data from 2009 to 2018 shows New York had the highest amount of medical malpractice payouts totaling $7 billion during that period. Pennsylvania, Florida, New Jersey and California round out the top five while Illinois came in No. 6 at nearly $2.3 billion.

Since 2009, medical malpractice payouts totaled $38.5 billion with the average payout of $309,000 per case. Over the past decade, the U.S. has seen an average of 12,414 medical malpractice cases filed each year.

MDs are the most frequent targets of lawsuits

The National Practitioner Data Bank ranked the medical professionals targeted by malpractice lawsuits in the U.S. from 2009 to 2018. The top five were:

  • Medical doctor: 85,938
  • Dentist: 14,510
  • Osteopathic physician: 7,343
  • Registered nurse: 3,466
  • Advanced practice nurse: 3,036

Medical errors cause devastating personal and financial consequences

Despite the significant payouts for medical malpractice claims in the U.S., many argue that incidents are widely underreported. Missed diagnoses can go unreported to patients and are not apparent until later when complications arise. In Illinois, you have two years from the date you first suspect you have been the victim of a medical error to file a malpractice claim.

Wrong or missed diagnoses can result in death or long-lasting physical and financial effects. If you are injured as a result of a medical professional’s negligence, an experienced personal injury attorney here in Illinois can help you recover the compensation you deserve.