Source: Health Policy Institute of Ohio
A national study released on May 3 found that medical errors in hospitals may now be the third leading cause of death in the United States (Source: “Researchers: Medical Errors Now Third Leading Cause of Death in United States, ” Washington Post, May 3, 2016).
The study, which was published in the BMJ (formerly the British Medical Journal), estimated that medical errors in hospitals cost 251,000 lives every year, more than respiratory disease, accidents, stroke, and Alzheimer’s.
Martin Makary, MD, MPH, a professor of surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, who led the research, said in an interview that the category includes everything from bad doctors to more systemic issues such as communication breakdowns when patients are handed off from one department to another.
“It boils down to people dying from the care that they receive rather than the disease for which they are seeking care,” Dr. Makary said. “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention should update its vital statistics reporting requirements so that physicians must report whether there was any error that led to a preventable death.”
“We all know how common it is,” he said. “We also know how infrequently it’s openly discussed.”