Every year the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) compiles a list of the most common causes of death in the US. They want the public to be aware of them. Death certificates submitted by funeral directors, doctors, coroners, and medical examiners are used to create the list. They assign cause of death using the International Classification of Disease (ICD) code. If a cause was not listed on the code, it was not taken into consideration.
However, the evaluation of safety factors has now evolved to be able to include poor judgment, medical diagnostic errors, and inadequate skills as additional causes of death.
Medical error is labeled an unintended act (either omission or commission) or one that simply does not produce the intended result.
An error can speed up an imminent death or end the life of someone with a long life expectancy. A death resulting from medical errors is described as iatrogenic. That means caused accidentally by a medical provider.
When medical errors are included in the list of causes of death, it has been determined to cause a death rate of 1.13%. When this statistic is applied to all reported US hospital admissions, it equates to well over 400,000 deaths a year.
It is important to note that these studies of causes of death only considered deaths from hospital care. They do not include deaths that are caused by errors in care at home or in a nursing facility or in outpatient care such as at an ambulatory surgery centers. If these were also reported and counted, the number of deaths annually from medical errors would exceed 500,000.
In the case of medical malpractice, the Florida Medical Malpractice Wrongful Death Act will apply.
If a person dies resulting from a medical error, the legal cause of action that results is called a wrongful death claim. The compensation to be determined for the death is not the value of the decedent’s life. There is no reasonable way to assign a financial value for a life lost as the result of the negligent act of another person.
A wrongful death claim seeks to ascertain the loss to the survivors of the deceased. This includes mental pain and suffering, torment, loss of support both financial and emotional, etc.
In a medical malpractice claim, the only ones that are eligible to bring a suit are the remaining spouse and any child 25 years of age or younger at the time of death. If the decedent is a child, the parents can make a claim only if the child is 25 years of age or younger at the time of death.
If the claim cannot be concluded and settled by the parties prior to trial, then it falls to a jury to determine the compensation for the loss.
The party at fault is culpable for paying the total amount of the verdict and judgment.
The statute of limitations for the filing of a wrongful death lawsuit in Florida is two years from the date of death. It must be filed within that time limit, or the opportunity to file will be lost.