Medical Errors Hit No. 3 Cause of Deaths

A new study found that medical errors are now the third-leading cause of deaths in the United States each year, claiming an estimated 251,000 lives. Researchers examined four studies analyzing U.S. death rate data and found that about 9.5 percent of all American deaths result from medical errors, more than respiratory disease, accidents, stroke, and Alzheimer’s-related ailments. Martin Makary, a Johns Hopkins University professor of surgery who led the research, said those errors include misdiagnosis, administering the wrong dosage of medication, and breakdowns in communication. Their analysis, published in the BMJ, also suggests the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention should update its statistics reporting rules to require doctors to note whether there was any error that led to a preventable death. The CDC doesn’t require reporting of errors in the data it collects through billing codes, making it difficult to determine what’s happening at a national level.