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According to a recent article published by the British Medical journal, medical malpractice is the third leading cause of death in the United States. Martin Makary and Michael Daniel assess its contribution to mortality and call for better reporting, because medical error is not included on death certificates or in rankings of cause of death.
The annual list of the most common causes of death in the United States, compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), informs public awareness and national research priorities each year. The list is created using death certificates filled out by physicians, funeral directors, medical examiners, and coroners. However, a major limitation of the death certificate is that it relies on assigning an International Classification of Disease (ICD) code to the cause of death and medical malpractice is not listed.
Given the serious patient safety issues that I see in my practice this study really comes as no surprise. Unfortunately, much of the public continues to believe that the “medical malpractice crisis” is something manufactured by lawyers. The fact that the majority of the events that occur are settled and kept from the public perpetuates the myth that medical malpractice is a rare event. The current health care system exposes patients and their families to preventable risks of catastrophic injury and death.
To read the entire study, please click here.