Medical Errors: Third Leading Cause Of Death

Visit a doctor or hospital when you’re sick in hopes of feeling better. Instead of regaining your health- you may wind up dead. A new study shows that medical errors are the third-leading cause of death in the United States. Leaving doctors and hospitals responsible for precisely 251,454 fatalities in 2013 alone.

Exceeding medical error deaths are heart disease, which respectively killed 611,000, and cancer that took 585,000 people that year. There have been more medical error deaths than that of chronic lower respiratory disease with 147,000 deaths, accidents which killed 136,053, and stroke which ended 133,103 lives.

Professor Martin Makary, who published the study with research fellow Michael Daniel, said that they base their findings on studies that date back to 1999, and compare their data to the number of U.S. hospital admissions in 2013. They say their data is an understatement, considering they base their numbers only from medically documented inpatient deaths.

The authors emphasize that death from medical error has long been understated. Due to errors by health providers will not be listing on a death certificate. Agencies such as the CDC base their data on death certificates completing by doctors, medical examiners, and funeral directors. Though still do not list medical error in rankings of causes of death. Makary and Daniel shared that death certificates rely on codes for a cause of death. And medical error doesn’t have an official disease code.

The study’s authors referring to the case of a young woman who was in quick recovery following transplant surgery. Although, when returning to the hospital for non-specific complaints. She was evaluating with extensive unnecessary tests, including a pericardiocentesis. She had been discharged following the tests but returning to the hospital days later with an intra-abdominal hemorrhage and cardiac arrest. An autopsy revealing that during the pericardiocentesis, the needle inserted grazed her liver causing a pseudoaneurysm. Which resulting in subsequent rupture and death. The woman’s death certificate showing the causes of death being cardiovascular, completely overlooking the mistakes made during surgery.

While human error is inevitable and impossible to eliminate, we can thoroughly measure the problems and design safer follow-up procedures to reduce the frequency of these mistakes.

Three strategies should be deploying by medical professionals to reduce the medical errors which raise the death toll; Making errors visible when they occur so their effects can be intercepting, having remedies at hand to rescue patients, and following principles that take human limitations into account making errors less frequent.

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