Medical errors in the United States are known to be a leading cause of death. Approximately 2.5 million deaths occurs annual in the US, and some statistics related to medical error deaths are as follows:
- According to the Institute of Medicine, 44,000 to 98,000 deaths occur annually due to medical errors.
- Institute of Medicine also states that 7,391 deaths occur due to medication errors.
These numbers are quite high, considering that the United States is one of the most advanced countries in the world when it comes to science and technology.
It has also been recorded that complete stoppage of heart caused by medical error occurs more frequently than we would like to accept. Complete stoppage of heart is also known as cardiac arrest. This can be explained as the halting of pumping activity as the contractions of the muscular walls of the heart stop suddenly. Medical error is listed as one of the most common cause of complete stoppage of heart along with anaphyliaxis, which is a life-threatening allergic reaction, and overdose of certain drugs.
In a cardiac arrest, the person collapses suddenly and losses consciousness. The breathing stops and no pulse can be felt. Once this happens, doctors immediately start cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
Here is a good example of complete stoppage of heart caused by medical error, which actually occurred in the United States. A woman went to her doctor complaining of weakness, tiredness, shortness of breath, fever and diarrhea. The doctor diagnosed a case of influenza and treated her accordingly. He also ordered a few tests and recommended that the patient revisit him in a week. However, the patient did not follow up and her condition started worsening. The doctor was summoned and he advised that the patient be shifted to a hospital where she was diagnosed with pneumococcal pneumonia. Her conditioned worsened in the hospital and the woman died due to cardiac arrest.
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