Medical Errors Are The No. 3 Cause Of US Deaths
A study by researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine estimates that more than 250,000 Americans die each year from medical errors.  That number of deaths is behind heart disease and cancer, which each took about 600,000 lives in 2014, but in front of respiratory disease, which caused about 150,000 deaths. The Johns Hopkins study says the kinds of medical mistakes that can lead to death range from surgical complications that go unrecognized to mix-ups with the doses or types of medications patients receive. The study did not investigate the number of Americans who end up with serious injuries related to medical errors.
The authors of the study concluded that the current system of tracking death reporting doesn’t capture problems like medical communication breakdowns, diagnostic errors, and poor judgment that cost lives, the study says. This has lead to difficulties in researching how dangerous medical errors are and has kept the problem out of the public eye, the study authors say. In fact, no one knows the true number of deaths caused by medical malpractice, which may be even higher than the current estimates, because of the vast underrecognition of the place of medical care as the cause of death. The authors, led by Johns Hopkins surgeon Dr. Martin Makary, call for changes in death certificates to better tabulate fatal lapses in care. In an open letter, they urge the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to immediately add medical errors to its annual list reporting the top causes of death.
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Author: Serena C. Montague
Publication Date: May 6, 2016