Medical Errors Possibly the Third Leading Cause of Death in U.S.


Medical Errors Leading Cause of Death in U.S.

We have discussed medical errors and malpractice several times on our blog, but we recently came across some staggering numbers that we wanted to share with you.

The Journal of Patient Safety estimated that between 400,000 and 425,000 Americans die as a result of medical errors. If this is true, then medical errors would be the third largest cause of death in the United States behind cancer and heart disease.

To help break down medical errors causing death a little further, Dr. Barbara Starfield wrote an article in which she showed the annual estimated deaths from non-error adverse effects from medications total 106,000; from hospital infections, 80,000; from assorted hospital error, 45,000; from unnecessary surgery, 12,000; and from medication errors, 7,000. The numbers are quite disturbing.

Though there are a large number of deaths, there are some contributing factors that could be making the numbers look worse than they really are. Medications and their errors can be difficult to assess as there are always risk associated with prescriptions and medications. Factors such as age, allergies, and lateness of treatment can all attribute to the high number of deaths and it is not always necessarily the doctor’s fault.

Regardless, there are more mistakes being made than necessary. Hopefully this study and article will help those in the medical field take their profession and treatment of patients more seriously.

Source: The Washington Times, “Are medical errors the third leading cause of death?” Paul Mountjoy, September 29, 2013.

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