No matter which estimate you believe to be accurate, Death by Medical Error ranks as a Top 10 cause of death in the US. Due to the extreme reluctance of hospitals and doctors to report the errors that lead to patient death, it is hard to define an accurate number of medical error related deaths each year. According to a Hearst Newspaper investigative report by Cathleen Crowley and Eric Nalder, " Within Health Care Hides Massive, Avoidable Death Toll", estimates vary from a low of 44,000 to 98,000 to as many as 200,000 per year depending on the study criteria and statistical assumptions made in each study. The CDC (Center for Disease Control) lists the Top 10 leading causes of death in the US:
An international research team has shown that death and complication rates from surgery can be dramatically improved by using simple checklists to make sure that safety measures are taken before, during, and after each operation. The research project involved nearly 8,000 patients at eight hospitals around the world and was done as part of the World Health Organization's program called Safe Surgery Saves Lives. The results were published in January 2009 in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, most often simply referred to as MRSA, causes an infection that is resistant to several common antibiotics. An estimated 90,000 people in the United States fall ill each year from MRSA. However, it is not clear how many die from the infection; one estimate puts it at more than 18,000, which would be slightly higher than U.S. deaths from AIDS. The infection has been associated with health care facilities, where it infects people with weakened immune systems. However, many recent cases involve an aggressive strain, community-associated MRSA, or CA-MRSA. Community-associated MRSA is generally the result of skin-to-skin contact between individuals. The infection can be life threatening if untreated. It is spread through close contact with an infected person, or by touching surfaces or personal items used by infected people. As a result, this disease is common among athletes and people in hospitals and jails. MRSA infections produce abscesses, boils and other pus-filled lesions on the skin.
Medication errors injure at least 1.5 million Americans annually, costing the United States more than $3.5 billion a year, according to a government report released in July 2006.
Breast cancer is a devastating disease attacking our sisters, daughters, mothers, and grandmothers. In the United States, close to 213,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year, with that number increasing to 420,000 annually over the next ten years.
Physicians often commit medical malpractice when they fail to diagnose a disease or other condition in a timely fashion. A study recently published in the Annals of Internal Medicine concluded that in a vast majority of the cases studied, medical malpractice was caused by errors as basic as failing to obtain an adequate medical history or perform an adequate physical examination.
The public debate over reforming the medical-malpractice legal system has long focused on extreme positions. Health-care providers and insurers call for a revamping of the entire system by capping damages and creating an administrative system of "health courts." Victims-rights advocates, including plaintiff's lawyers, argue that the present system works fine and no reform is necessary. It now appears that a middle ground may be emerging that can reduce litigation costs and permit a faster resolution of malpractice claims. How-by encouraging honesty by health care providers when unforeseen outcomes occur and making early settlement offers and apologizing when injuries are caused by medical negligence.
Medication errors injure over $1.5 million Americans each year, according to a report of the Institute of Medicine released on July 20, 2006. The report further found that 400,000 of those medical-error injuries occur in hospitals and that, on average, a hospital patient is subjected to one medication error daily. Although not included in the report, other experts estimate that as many as 9,000 deaths are caused each year by medication errors. To eliminate a large portion of these medical mistakes, the report recommends that hand-written prescriptions be replaced with a computerized system by which physicians would prescribe medications and pharmacies would receives those prescription electronically.