Medical Errors Are the Third Leading Cause of Death in US

According to an article in the Palm Beach Post, medical errors are now the third leading cause of death in the United States behind heart disease and cancer. The author notes, “A study just released this month in the Journal of Patient Safety now estimates that medical errors contribute to the deaths of between 220,000 and 440,000 people each year. According to this research, medical errors would be the third-leading cause of death in the U.S. behind heart disease and cancer. In other words, outside of heart disease and cancer, there is no greater threat to the lives of Americans than medical errors. It appears that following changes to medical malpractice laws, Americans are now less safe and more likely to be victims of medical errors.” This grim news should give us all pause as we consider our medical decisions and the current debate concerning healthcare reform and the costs of healthcare. Unfortunately, this discussion too often revolves around tort reform rather than patient safety. If medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States, why aren’t we talking more about prevention and safety?