Medical errors rank third, just behind heart disease and cancer as a leading cause of death in the United States. Those findings come from a new study by researchers at Johns Hopkins University.
According to the study, patients who suffer injuries as the result of a medical error are much more likely to die, compared to persons who suffer from respiratory diseases like bronchitis and emphysema. The tragedy is that people may take precautions in order to prevent contracting bronchitis and emphysema, or any other diseases that could result in death, but may not realize that they have a much higher chance of dying from a medical error.
The study estimates that more than 250,000 U.S. deaths every year can be traced to medical errors. There are a number of medical errors that could injure or kill a patient. Misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis, overmedication and other types of medical errors are often serious enough to cause a patient’s death.
Johns Hopkins University has strong advice for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and is calling on the agency to include medical errors as one of its top leading causes of death in the country. According to the researchers, the failure to outline medical errors as a leading cause of death in the country has led to lack of awareness about the seriousness of medical errors. Patients who get admitted into a hospital for treatment may not even be aware that failure to follow simple procedures like hand hygiene could have a possibly life-threatening impact on their health.
According to the researchers, listing medical errors as the cause of death on death certificates in the United States will generate more awareness about the risk of errors, and could lead to more informed patients who are better equipped to prevent these errors.