Tags: medical errors | deaths | third leading cause

Medical Errors, Deaths Linked Again: Called Third-Leading Cause in US

Medical Errors, Deaths Linked Again: Called Third-Leading Cause in US
(Catalina Zaharescu Tiensuu/Dreamstime.com)

By    |   Wednesday, 04 May 2016 03:38 PM

Medical errors kill about 250,000 people each year says a new report, making them the third-leading cause of death in the U.S.

The report by Johns Hopkins medical school professor Martin Makary draws attention to a need for a better reporting system, USA Today reported, noting that death certifications, which rely on the International Classification of Disease, don't allow human or system errors to be recorded as a cause of death.

The report, published in the BMJ, used previous studies to calculate a mean rate of death from medical error of 251,454.

"We believe this understates the true incidence of death due to medical error because the studies cited rely on errors extractable in documented health records and include only inpatient deaths," the report reads.

The first estimate of the number of deaths caused by medical errors came in 1999, when the National Academy of Sciences' Institute of Medicine estimated the number at 98,000.

In 2010, the Department of Health and Human Services estimated that 180,000 Medicare patients alone died each year because of medical mistakes. In 2013, NASA toxicologist John James estimated that medical errors caused between 210,000 and 440,000 deaths each year.

But those numbers are complicated by the fact that patients typically enter hospitals because they aren't well, and several factors can lead to death, with some mistakes being errors of omission rather than commission, James told USA Today.

"Measuring the problem is the absolute first step," Makary told The Washington Post. "Hospitals are currently investigating deaths where medical error could have been a cause, but they are under-resourced. What we need to do is study patterns nationally."

Bob Anderson, chief of the mortality statistics branch for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said complications from medical care are captured on death certificates, NPR reported. But the CDC's mortality statistics list only the condition that led a person to seek treatment.

Dr. Eric Thomas, a professor of medicine at the University of Texas Houston Medical School said current estimates aren't precise.

"If we can clarify for the public and lawmakers how big a problem these errors are, you would hope it would lead to more resources toward patient safety," he said.

Twitter users were alarmed by the study.






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Medical errors kill about 250,000 people each year says a new report, making them the third-leading cause of death in the U.S.
medical errors, deaths, third leading cause
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2016-38-04
Wednesday, 04 May 2016 03:38 PM
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