A shocking statistic that has been suspected for years has recently been confirmed in a study by patient-safety researchers at Johns Hopkins University. The study, which was published in The BMJ, a weekly peer-reviewed medical journal, revealed that “medical errors” may now be the third-leading cause of death in the United States. The study estimates that medical errors account for approximately 250,000 deaths per year. Only heart disease and cancer claim more lives on an annual basis.
The authors of the study, Martin Makary and Michael Daniel, believe that better data and tracking of medical errors leading to death are vital to reducing this statistic. Currently, the system used by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to track mortality statistics only indicates the “underlying cause of death”, which simply means the condition that caused that patient to seek treatment in the first place. As such, even if the death certificate of an individual indicates a potential human error in the cause of death, that data would not be included in the CDC’s statistics. In an open letter to the CDC, the study’s authors urge the CDC to expand the coding available to clinicians to include preventable complications. The authors argue that the accurate measurement and tracking of medical errors is the first step in reducing preventable deaths.
If you or a loved one have suffered injury or death as a result of the negligence of a medical provider, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact the medical malpractice and wrongful death attorneys at Pavlack Law. 317-251-1100. The consultation is always free, and we do not take any fee until we succeed for you!
- Medical error—the third leading cause of death in the US: http://www.bmj.com/content/353/bmj.i2139
- John Hopkins Medicine, Department of Surgery, Letter to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (May 1, 2016): https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/2822345-Hopkins-CDC-letter.html