What’s the third leading cause of death? Heart disease? Cancer? No, in fact, it’s medical errors. It might be a shock to you that medical errors rank so high, but with 251,000 deaths due to medical errors reported in the most recent year’s data, they certainly do cause problems for patients and their families alike. It’s not just medical errors that cause deaths that should be concerning, either; for every death there is, there are other errors taking place that patients survive. The impact of medical errors is wide and spreading.
According to the Institute of Medicine’s 1999 report, there were 98,000 deaths from medical errors each year. That was an estimate, and that estimate has climbed rapidly. Research completed at Johns Hopkins Medical Center updated the estimates recently and showed that between 2000 and 2008, there were 37 million admissions to hospitals with medical errors happening at a rate of .71 percent.
While that might not seem like a high number, considering the mass amount of people involved in the study, it actually means around 251,000 would be killed each year due to medical errors alone. Cancer kills around 591,000 people a year, and heart disease leads to around 614,000 deaths. The next most likely thing to kill a person are lung diseases, which make up 147,000 deaths annually; that’s over 100,000 fewer people than medical errors. Clearly, that’s a problem.
Another study showed that around 45 percent of all surgeries performed between 2013 to 2014 had drug errors or unintended side effects from the administered drugs. Patients who suffer these issues have little choice but to file medical malpractice lawsuits; if they’re killed, their families have to do this on their behalf.
Source: The Huffington Post, “Medical Errors Are The Third Leading Cause Of Death — How You Can Avoid Them,” Cary A. Presant, July 21, 2016