Medical errors are now the third leading cause of death in the United States, according to a study published in the BMJ by researchers at Johns Hopkins patient safety experts. The leading cause of death as reported by the Centers for Disease Control are heart attacks, cancer and respiratory disease. The newly calculated figures now place medical errors as the third leading cause of death in the United States.
The problem is not "bad doctors," the authors conclude, so much as "systemic problems, including poorly coordinated care, fragmented insurance networks, the absence or underuse of safety nets, and other protocols, in addition to unwarranted variation in physician practice patterns that lack accountability."
More than 250,000 patient deaths per year are attributed to medical errors.
The authors conclude that what is needed is not more professional discipline for doctors and even more lawsuits; developing consensus protocols that streamline the delivery of medicine and reduce variability can improve quality and lower costs in health care