Medical Error is Estimated to be the Third Largest Killer in the United States

Researchers at the John Hopkins School of Medicine concluded that over a quarter of a million of people died in 2013 due to mistakes made by health care professionals. That number, which was based only on people who died inside a hospital, is more than double the number of suicides, firearm deaths, and motor vehicle fatalities combined.

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In their study, the researchers examined four separate studies that analyzed medical death rate data from 2000 to 2008. Then, using hospital admission rates from 2013, they extrapolated that based on a total of 35,416,020 hospitalizations, 251,454 deaths stemmed from a medical error, which the researchers say now translates to 9.5 percent of all deaths each year in the U.S.

According to the CDC, in 2013, 611,105 people died of heart disease, 584,881 died of cancer, and 149,205 died of chronic respiratory disease, which are the top three causes of death in the U.S. The newly calculated figure for medical errors puts this cause of death behind cancer but ahead of respiratory disease.

That number doesn’t account for those who died after they were mistakenly sent home. Medical error is not included in cause of death rankings or on death certificates, and these fatal mistakes often go unreported. This ultimately causes other medical professionals to encounter the same life-threatening mistakes because they have no examples to reference as a warning. What are your thoughts? Comment below!

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