Medical errors are third leading cause of death in US

May 4, 2016    |   By: Alex Christgen, BS, CPPS

A recent article from BMJ states medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the US after heart disease and cancer. The article follows the 1999 IOM report which made the first attempt to determine preventable harm in healthcare. The IOM report estimated a staggering 44,000 to 98,000 patient deaths each year due to medical errors.  In 2013, the IOM’s reported numbers were determined to be grossly underestimated based on a newer study suggesting the actual number was likely to be more than 400,000 deaths per year as result of medical errors.

The article includes the following call to action:

  1. make errors more visible when they occur so their effects can be intercepted
  2. have remedies at hand to rescue patients
  3. make errors less frequent by following principles that take human limitations into account

The article’s Call to Action aligns with the Center for Patient Safety’s (CPS) program objectives and mission. Reducing errors in healthcare is achievable with open communication in a positive culture that supports learning from mistakes in a safe environment, but not just within the walls of a single organization. Organizations and healthcare providers must learn and share with one another, across the continuum of care.

Although the article specifically references medical errors in the inpatient hospital setting, CPS’ recently released annual report suggests medical errors resulting in patient deaths in LTC, home care, ASCs, medical offices and EMS settings may be just as prevalent.

CPS supports patient safety efforts through the provision of programs aimed at improving organizational culture, increasing awareness of medical errors, and providing an environment that supports safe discussion of mistakes.  Through Protecting, Learning, and Preventing, CPS is working with organizations and healthcare providers across the country to improve patient safety every day.

Contact us to join the healthcare movement to safer care.

BLOG:

The Second Victim Experience – Train-the-Trainer Workshop:

Most health care providers adjust well to the multitude of demands encountered during an unexpected or traumatic clinical event. Providers often have strong emotional defenses that carry them through and l

PSO Alert: Fall Risk:

The Center for Patient Safety issues this alert regarding falls based on our data analysis. Falls are a difficult and long-standing challenge for providers. While the majority of events report no harm, fal

Are Critical Thinking Skills becoming Extinct?:

As an RN for nearly 30 years, I’ve seen many changes in the healthcare arena since I started as a Student Nurse Assistant in 1986. I recently had a discussion with other healthcare providers regarding th

It’s time for healthcare organizations to partner up with a Patient Safety Organization. Are you ready?:

It’s time for healthcare organizations to partner up with a Patient Safety Organization. Are you ready? Hospitals have an approaching deadline to sign up with a Patient Safety Organization (PSO) for

Read More

RESOURCES:

The Center for Patient Safety believes that collaboration and sharing are the best ways to drive improvement. We strive to provide the right solutions and resources to improve healthcare safety and quality.