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Johns Hopkins Research Finds Medical Errors Third Leading Cause of Death in U.S

Shared by Radhika Narayanan | 6 13 0 | about 2 years ago

As reported on National Public Radio (NPR) online, “A study by researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine says medical errors should rank as the third-leading cause of death in the United States — and highlights how shortcomings in tracking vital statistics may hinder research and keep the problem out of the public eye. The authors, Johns Hopkins surgeon Martin Makary, M.D., Ph.D., a professor of surgery and health policy & management at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, and his co-author, research assistant Michael Daniel, published an article Tuesday in The BMJ (formerly the British Medical Journal. The NPR article, by Marshall Allen and Olga Pierce, notes that, “Based on an analysis of prior research, the Johns Hopkins study estimates that more than 250,000 Americans die each year from medical errors. On the CDC’s official list, that would rank just behind heart disease and cancer, which each took about 600,000 lives in 2014, and in front of respiratory disease, which caused about 150,000 deaths,” for an estimated average of 400,000 deaths a year. “Medical mistakes that can lead to death range from surgical complications that go unrecognized to mix-ups with the doses or types of medications patients receive,” the authors add. But the problem is that no one knows exactly how many deaths are really caused by medical errors, in part because the coding system used by the CDC to record death certificate data “doesn’t capture things like communication breakdowns, diagnostic errors and poor judgment that cost lives,” the NPR story notes.

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