BALTIMORE (WJZ)–Medical errors are the third leading cause for death for U.S. patients, according to a shocking new study out of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

Now, researchers are urging big changes to turn around the deadly trend.

Meghan McCorkell has more.

More than a decade ago, Michael Bennett’s 88-year old father was hospitalized with a respiratory virus.

He’d never walk out again after Bennett says after he contracted multiple hospital-borne bacteria strains.

“They destroyed his body,” said Michael Bennett. “They destroyed his internal organs. One turned into flesh eating bacteria and ate off his leg.”

Since his father’s death, Bennett has fought for patient safety.

Now a new report out of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine finds medical errors are the third leading cause of death in U.S. patients, surpassed only by heart disease and cancer.

“We’re talking about patients dying from the care that they receive rather than the disease or injury for which they seek care. We’re talking about things that happen that shouldn’t happen,” said Dr. Martin Makary, with Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

Study co-author Dr. Martin Makary says errors include, diagnosistic mistakes, inadequate discharge instructions and preventable complications.

Malpractice attorney David Ellin thinks the numbers are even higher.

“There’s so many cases of malpractice that go unreported. I’ve read studies that up to 90 percent of medical malpractice cases go unreported,” he said.

The report suggests that medical error be listed as a cause of death on a death certificate.

It’s a move Michael Bennett says is a step in the right direction, but still not enough.

“Someone’s going to have to hold hospitals and healthcare workers accountable for negligence,” he says.

So fewer patients fall victim to mistakes.

Researchers say the fault doesn’t lie with individual doctors, instead they blame system wide failures in healthcare.

The Maryland Office of Health Care Quality– which licenses medical facilities– requires reporting of major errors.

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