Earlier this year a study by researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine concluded that medical errors should rank as the third leading cause of death in the United States. The study highlights how shortcomings in tracking vital statistics both hinders research and keeps the issue out of the public eye.
Led by Johns Hopkins surgeon Dr. Martin Makary, the authors call for changes in death certificates as a means to tabulate fatal lapses in care. In an open letter, they urge the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to add medical errors to its annual list of top causes of death.
The high rate of death from medical negligence (preventable medical errors) has been reported for the last 20 years:
- In 1994, Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reported 180,000 deaths in hospitals alone from medical mistakes.
- In 1999, The Institute of Medicine reported 98,000 deaths a year from preventable medical mistakes.
- In 2010 the Inspector General for the US Department of HSS said 180,000 Medicare patients alone die each year from “bad hospital care”.
- In 2013, Journal of Patient Safety, a NASA scientist calculated up to 440,000 patient die each year in hospitals from medical malpractice. His findings were affirmed by “three prominent patient safety researchers to review James’ study […] and all said his methods and findings were credible.” See NPR Article on Medical Mistakes.
- In 2014, a US Senate Panel was told that “Preventable medical errors in hospitals are the third leading cause of death in the United States, […]Only heart disease and cancer kill more Americans.”
Additionally, 74% of medical errors not resulting in death are preventable. This was also reported in the Journal and the American Medical Association.
According to medical malpractice insurance companies, the ten most common medical errors in the USA are:
- Technical Medical Errors
- Failure to Use Indicated Tests
- Avoidable Delay in Treatment
- Failure to take Precautions
- Failure to Act on Test Results
- Inadequate Monitoring after Procedure
- Inadequate Patient Prep before Procedure
- Inadequate Follow up after Treatment
- Avoidable Delay In Diagnosis
- Improper Medication Dose or Use
In 2017, FocusHealthcare.com will publish a complete catalog of U.S. hospitals and their HCAHPS Scores (as published by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) and give our readers the ability to offer their own critique of hospitals based on firsthand experience, including preventable medical errors.