When looking at medical errors, the sad truth is that it's the third-largest killer in the United States (when you look at it in terms of disease and illness). The only things more likely to kill an American in the medical context are cancer or heart disease.
If you've been the victim of one of these mistakes, then it's you who is left dealing with the consequences. You'll have to go through additional surgeries, take new treatments or face the reality that your treatment won't be able to save your life because it's taking place too late.
So, what can be done to protect you from suffering from medical errors? If you do suffer an injury, who can you file a claim against? Typically, the doctors and medical teams you received treatment from will be held responsible.
No one really knows how many people die from these errors, because they aren't reported all the time. When a person's cause of death is listed on a death certificate in the United States, there's no way to mark that a medical mistake was the cause.
Doctors and medical providers have been pushing for more openness when it comes to these errors. There's not an easy way to combat them when no one knows the root causes. When an open and honest discussion can be had, that's when the changes that need to happen can begin.
Mistakes may always be possible, because doctors and nurses are only human. However, mistakes can be avoided in many cases if there are enough systems in place to protect patients.
Source: Voice of America, "US Doctor Calls for Transparency to Curb Medical Errors That Kill Millions," Carol Pearson, May 13, 2016