Researchers at Johns Hopkins say we’re right to worry about cancer and heart disease — those are far and away the Number 1 and 2 killers in America. But they also say there’s another category which should cause concern: medical mistakes. If healthcare errors were calculated correctly, Hopkins researchers assert, those mistakes taken together would easily be the Number 3 killer on the list.
A new study published in the BMJ, a medical journal, says medical mistakes properly accounted for would rank above accidents, chronic lower respiratory disease, strokes, diabetes and suicide on the list of things that kill Americans. Researchers estimate more than 250,000 people die each year from medical mistakes ranging from surgery gone wrong to prescription errors. The authors of the study are urging the CDC to change its methodology for collecting data on medical mistakes. Better identification will lead to better treatment and a wiser distribution of resources.