A recent analysis of available statistics resulted in a troubling discovery: preventable medical errors are the third highest cause of death in the U.S. Sadly, as many as 400,000 people die every year due to errors like wrong-site surgery, medication mistakes and missed diagnoses.

Too often, researchers say, medical errors are not listed as the cause of death, which has made the problem difficult to track. Instead, the results of these errors, like severe brain damage or trauma, are listed as the cause of death. Without medical mistakes, many types of fatal or catastrophic conditions could likely be prevented.

In these situations, it can be very upsetting and complicated to figure out what exactly went wrong and who is to blame, especially when you don’t have a medical background.

For instance, if your loved one died as a result of a condition like brain swelling or infection, you may not know if a particular condition was misdiagnosed or if the wrong amount or type of drug was administered during surgery. You may not be clear on why a particular situation was handled the way it was or why doctors didn’t make certain decisions differently.

When you do ask questions, you don’t always get the answers you need and deserve, particularly when it was a fatal mistake. Rather than acknowledge an error and issue an apology, many hospitals and doctors will do or say what they can to avoid admitting any accountability.

And sadly, as indicated by the recent study, fatality caused by preventable mistakes could be happening far more frequently than you realize.

Because of these challenges and the fact that you may already be dealing with the loss of a loved one or coping with a severe injury or illness, it can feel overwhelming to fight back against negligent parties. Thankfully, you don’t have to do it alone. You can work with a personal injury attorney who can help you navigate the legal system and pursue the compensation and accountability you deserve.

Source: NBC News, “Could Medical Errors Be No. 3 Cause of Death?” Maggie Fox and Lauren Dunn, May 4, 2016