Medical Error: 3rd Leading Cause of Death

Research published in the BMJ on Tuesday, shows that “medical errors” may now be the third-leading cause of death in the United States — "claiming 251,000 lives every year, more than respiratory disease, accidents, stroke and Alzheimer’s."

"Martin Makary, a professor of surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine who led the research, said in an interview that the category includes everything from bad doctors to more systemic issues such as communication breakdowns when patients are handed off from one department to another."
"'There has just been a higher degree of tolerance for variability in practice than you would see in other industries... That makes it tricky to figure out where errors are occurring and how to fix them'... 'Measuring the problem is the absolute first step,' he said. 'Hospitals are currently investigating deaths where medical error could have been a cause, but they are underresourced. What we need to do is study patterns nationally.'"

"'There has just been a higher degree of tolerance for variability in practice than you would see in other industries... That makes it tricky to figure out where errors are occurring and how to fix them'...

'Measuring the problem is the absolute first step,' he said. 'Hospitals are currently investigating deaths where medical error could have been a cause, but they are underresourced. What we need to do is study patterns nationally.'"