People in New York who have been hospitalized recently may be surprised to learn how high the numbers are of patient deaths in hospitals due to preventable errors. As the third leading cause of death, preventable medical errors in those facilities are responsible for around 200,000 to 400,000 fatalities each year.

According to an article in the Journal of Patient Safety, such errors may also be under-reported. One study found that patients reported three times more mistakes than were noted in their charts. Among all physicians, cardiologists were the least likely to report errors, but physicians in other specialties were resistant to doing so as well.

Types and causes of errors vary from a lack of communication to medication errors, diagnostic errors, injuries to nerves or vessels, infections acquired at the facility, omissions in treatment and more. There is also an equally large number of deaths that happen as a result of hospital errors after the patient leaves the hospital.

As the article demonstrates, medical malpractice is a serious problem. Patients have a right to a certain standard of hospital care, and when that care falls short, it may be advisable to file a lawsuit against the medical facility and the medical professionals who made the error. A patient who survives a surgical error still may undergo additional pain and suffering as well as a longer recovery period, higher expenses and more time missed from work. A medical facility may offer a settlement, but the patient may want to speak to a lawyer before accepting. The offer may be low, or a lawsuit may be a better strategy.