Human Error is a Leading Cause of Death

250000 deaths preventable

Diagnostic errors, preventable effects, provider judgment lead to 250,000 deaths a year, research says

Written by Lauren Turville

A recent study completed by a team of medical professors at Johns Hopkins University suggests the human error should be recognized by the CDC as the third leading cause of death in the United States.

This study concluded that about 250,000 Americans die annually from mistakes made in the medical field in four areas. These include: the providers’ judgment, skill or coordination of care, diagnostic errors, system defects, and preventable adverse effects. For example, surgical complications or mix up with doses or medications given.

Chronic Lower Respiratory Disease is the current third-place holder on the CDC’s list, but in 2013 human error deaths surpassed those due to respiratory disease by more than 100,000. The researcher’s goal in completing this study is to increase the amount of research grants that go towards this subject.

More than 250,000 Americans die each year from medical errors.

“You have this over-appreciation and overestimate of things like cardiovascular disease, and a vast under-recognition of the place of medical care as the cause of death,” stated surgeon Martin Makaray, the lead author.

The Johns Hopkins team wrote a letter to CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden making a case for human error to be put on the list of leading causes of death, but other experts say this move may be premature. It is generally accepted though, that for how many mistakes are made, this topic is not discussed frequently enough or given enough attention.

Sources: NPR, John Hopkins University


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