Thursday, January 29, 2015

Medical Errors in America Kill More People than AIDS or Drug Overdoses.

Sarah Kliff wirtes:
Medical errors kill more people than car crashes or new disease outbreaks. They kill more people annually than breast cancer, AIDS, plane crashes, or drug overdoses. Depending which estimate you use, medical errors are either the 3rd or 9th leading cause of death in the United States. Those left dead as a result of their medical care could fill an average-sized Major League Baseball stadium — sometimes twice over.

Medical errors tend to fall into two buckets. There are the mistakes that happen when doctors set a wrong plan: when they prescribe the wrong medication, for example, thinking it was the right treatment. Then there are the errors that occur when doctors set the right plan but don't follow it — when messy handwriting means a patient gets the wrong drug dosage, for example, or when a surgeon operates on the wrong body part (yes, this actually happens).

"Something like 2 to 3 percent of people who go into the hospital are going to have some pretty severe harm as a result," says Don Berwick, the Obama administration's former Medicare administrator. "Australian studies show that the rate might be as high as 12 percent. The harder you look, and the more you study the issue, the more errors you find."...

In the Utah and Colorado study, researchers found that 2.9 percent of patients experienced a medical error during a hospital trip. In New York, it was 3.7 percent. The New York study also found that, of those who experienced a medical error, 13.7 percent died because of it. In other words: of 1,000 patients who enter a hospital, about 30 or 40 would experience a mistake in their care. About four would end up dead as a result...

Some errors in medicine are stunningly bad. One study, published in the journal Surgery, found that surgeons operated on the wrong part of the body 2,413 times between 1990 and 2010. They left foreign objects behind in the body (typically sponges) 4,857 times. In 27 cases, they operated on the wrong patient altogether.

These errors are terrible, and easy to recognize. But they aren't what cause the most harm in American health care. It's the less stunning, more quotidian mistakes that are the biggest killers.

Read the full article, here.

1 comment:

  1. Pissing away your "tort" rights via medical malpractice "reform" is an error.