Just behind heart disease and cancer, medical errors have now become the third leading cause of death. In a study released by Johns Hopkins medical center, it was estimated that 250,000 individuals die each year as a result of such errors. This includes poor communication among hospital staff, giving of wrong medications, surgical mistakes, neglect, and more. Authors of the report are urging the CDC to make changes to the way the agency reports causes of death to better capture what exactly is going wrong when medical errors lead to death; currently the CDC cites the original, underlying cause (the issue that led a patient to seek medical treatment initially) as the culprit. The authors of the report are hoping to increase awareness of this issue, and encourage politicians and health care professionals to instutute reforms that will reverse this trend.
The original report was published in The BMJ (subscription needed), but a summary can be found here: