Medical error is the 3rd biggest cause of death in the US

In fact 225,000 to 284,000 Americans die each year as a result of medical errors:

“The health care system also may contribute to poor health through its adverse effects. For example, US estimates of the combined effect of errors and adverse effects that occur because of iatrogenic damage not associated with recognizable error include:
• 12000 deaths/year from unnecessary surgery
• 7000 deaths/year from medication errors in hospitals
• 20000 deaths/year from other errors in hospitals

• 80 000 deaths/year from nosocomial infections in hospitals
• 106 000 deaths/year from nonerror, adverse effects of medications

These total to 225 000 deaths per year from iatrogenic causes. Three caveats should be noted. First, most of the data are derived from studies in hospitalized patients. Second, these estimates are for deaths only and do not include adverse effects that are associated with disability or discomfort. Third, the estimates of death due to error are lower than those in the IOM report. If the higher estimates are used, the deaths due to iatrogenic causes would range from 230000 to 284000.”

More: Is US Health Really the Best in the World? Barbara Starfield, MD, MPH

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4 thoughts on “Medical error is the 3rd biggest cause of death in the US

  1. thinks says:

    I know, for a fact, of at least two medical errors in 2007, but they took place in Greek hospitals, not in the U.S. My parents could attest to said errors, were they alive to tell us about it…

    • epanechnikov says:

      I suspect the number is even higher in Greece. However I doubt I can find reliable estimates…

      • thinks says:

        I think we can be sure the number is higher (proportionately). But reliable estimates (or any estimates) are unavailable because, as it is well known, Greek doctors never make mistakes. Patients do. There are however estimates on the level of bribery that goes in little white envelopes to said deities.

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