New Study Finds Medical Error Is 3rd Leading Cause of Death

Think you’re in good hands if you have to go into the hospital, or see your doctor for a procedure? The results of this study may make you think again…

A new study from Johns Hopkins University has found that medical error is the 3rd leading cause of death in the U.S.

Yes, that means that medical mistakes kill more people every year than respiratory diseases (previously thought to be the 3rd leading cause of death), accidents, stroke, Alzheimer’s diabetes, and any other cause besides heart disease and cancer (still the two leading causes).

If you think this is a travesty in a developed country with all of the technological advances that we boast, you would be right!

And the estimated number (over 250,000 per year), could actually be as high as 400,000, since the U.S. doesn’t accurately code all causes of death in our mortality statistics (see below for more info).

Before undergoing any medical procedure, it is always wise to seek a second opinion, and do your research on the procedure and possible side effects. Pay close attention to what your doctor says, and if you feel they do not seem as knowledgeable about the topic as you would like, find a doctor who is.

Martin Makary and Michael Daniel at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore say death certificates in the US have no facility for acknowledging medical error, and they call for

better reporting to help understand the scale of the problem and how to tackle it.

Currently, death certification in the US relies on assigning an International Classification of Disease (ICD) code to the cause of death – so causes of death not associated with an ICD code, such as human and system factors, are not captured.

According to the World Health Organization, 117 countries code their mortality statistics using the ICD system, including the UK and Canada.

As a result, accurate data on deaths associated with medical error is lacking, but recent estimates suggest a range of 210,000 to 400,000 deaths a year among hospital patients in the US.
Learn more about the study in the press release from the British Medical Journal