We all know that heart disease and cancer are the leading causes of death in America, but do you know the third? Some of you probably think it’s death by car accident or firearm, but you’d be wrong. It turns out that the third leading cause of death in the U.S. is medical error, but the reason you didn’t know that might actually be because someone is hiding that fact from you.
Why Didn’t I Know Medical Error Was the Third Leading Cause of Death?
In 1999, the National Academy of Science’s Institute of Medicine released a controversial report. It estimated that up to 98,000 deaths in the U.S. were the result of medical errors, and at the time, few were willing to believe that estimate. Fast forward over a decade and the Department of Health and Human Services decided that it would run a similar study on Medicare patients. It found 180,000 deaths that it thought were linked to medical mistakes. So how are so many people dying every year due to medical errors, and nobody is saying anything about it? One professor from one of the country’s most elite medical institutions has a theory.
Martin Makary, a surgeon and professor at John Hopkins Medical School, says that the reason America doesn’t know about this medical error problem is because they are never reported. Right now, the medical community uses the International Classification of Disease Codes (ICD) to mark the cause of someone’s death. Though the ICD is very comprehensive, it only marks diseases and ailments for billing purposes. So these codes don’t actually record the cause of a death, which means when a medical error occurs, it is never recorded as the reason someone died.
Knowing this, Makary released the results of his own study, which estimates that in 2013 around 250,000 people died due to medical errors. However, until record keeping by the medical industry is updated, we won’t be able to confirm these estimates, and we also won’t be able to fix the problems that are causing these medical errors to happen. However, there are still solutions open to the people of America.
Medical malpractice lawsuits often dig up these unreported errors, and they also spur lawmakers into fixing the problems that plague our medical system. The medical malpractice attorneys here at the McArthur Law Firm are a part of this solution too. So stick with our blog and learn even more about improving our nation’s healthcare. You can also tell us what you think by logging on to Twitter and Facebook.