Medical errors third leading cause of death in US

Medical errors can be very dangerous for patients in the United States. Medical errors can result in serious complications and even death so it is vital that hospitals understand what contributes tomedical errors to develop strategies to prevent these mistakes from happening in the future.

While we have known for a long time that medical errors contribute to many deaths every year in the U.S., a new report says that preventable deaths caused by medical mistakes have been underreported in the past. A compilation of four studies found that medical errors contribute to 210,000 to 444,000 patient deaths every year in the U.S., a number much higher than previous estimates.

The Institute of Medicine previously reported that medical errors caused up to 98,000 deaths in U.S. hospitals every year. However, new estimates show that this number is much higher than what many people have been told.

The new finding that medical errors contribute to an estimated 400,000 deaths every years means that medical errors have become the third leading cause of death for Americans.

Why were previous estimates so far off from the new finding? Researchers said that their new studies looked at medical records that identified additional adverse events that led to a patient’s death that may not have been considered in previous reports. Evidence of adverse events that contributed to patient deaths included lab results, stopping medications and other events that could have contributed to a patient fatality.

Patient safety advocates and hospital administrators should be aware of the new findings to address the dangers of medical errors and the harm it poses to hospital patients.

Source: Clinical Advisor, “Preventable deaths from medical errors underestimated,” Ann W. Latner, Oct. 15, 2013

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