Medical error is the third leading cause of death in the United States, after heart disease and cancer, according to findings published this month in British Medical Journal (BMJ). This analysis shows that “medical errors” in hospitals and other health-care facilities are incredibly common and 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.
The authors wrote while “human error is inevitable” and “we cannot eliminate human error, we can better measure the problem to design safer systems mitigating its frequency, visibility and consequences.
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