Medical Errors Are Now The Third Leading Cause Of Death In US

The BMJ released a study from John Hopkins University revealing that medical error is the top third cause of death in the U.S., but doctors are not necessarily to be blamed.

The study's research, conducted between 2000-2008 by Martin Makary and Michael Daniel, indicates that more than 250,000 deaths in the U.S. are caused by medical error.

The potentially policy-changing study indicates that medical error bypasses respiratory disease, which is the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s proclaimed third leading cause of death. Respiratory disease kills about 150,000 people a year.

Accordingly, medical error can be considered accountable for 9.5 percent of all patient fatalities.

Makary, a professor at John Hopkins University School of Medicine and a New York Times bestselling author, is a health expert in researching patient safety."Top-ranked causes of death as reported by the CDC inform our country's research funding and public health priorities," Makary explained. "Right now, cancer and heart disease get a ton of attention, but since medical errors don't appear on the list, the problem doesn't get the funding and attention it deserves."

He continued to say that medical error doesn’t mean that all doctors are to blame for patient deaths, but rather systemic errors need to be more closely examined by policy makers. He argues for greater accountability measures imposed on doctors along with increased coordination in patient care and more cohesive insurance networks.

Makary does not condone legal punishment for doctors who have caused patient deaths.

He said that reducing variability and streamlining care protocols “can improve quality and lower costs in health care. More research on preventing medical errors from occurring is needed to address the problem."

At present, the U.S. lacks a coding system for collecting data caused by healthcare workers’ mistakes. In Makary and Daniel’s study, they recommend a federal coding system similar to those set in place for influenza or diabetes should be created to protect patients.

It is rather frightening to consider that the U.S. medical system and human error are to blame for nearly 1 out of 10 deaths annually.

Banner / Thumbnail : Pixabay / corgaasbeek

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