Medical Errors the 3rd Leading Cause of Death in US
Researchers have identified medical errors as the 3rd leading cause of death in the US, after heart disease and cancer.
Patients die from receiving the wrong medication, over-treatment or under-treatment, misdiagnosis or simply falling through the cracks. One in 4 patients in the hospital will experience a medical error. The most dangerous hospital mistakes occur during a “patient handoff”, when a doctor or nurse passes the patient’s information to someone else but does not communicate critical information or concerns during the process.
Currently, medical errors are not listed as an official “cause of death” and the CDC does not keep track of them. As a result, medical errors leading to death do not receive the level of public attention, funding and research routinely received by other leading causes of death.
If statistics on medical errors leading to death are collected and shared, hospitals, doctors and nurses can can change medical practices and procedures to minimize errors. If medical malpractice settlements include legal and medical protections, lessons from medical errors can be evaluated and disseminated and deaths reduced.