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Leading Cause of Accidental Death in America is Mistakes in Medical Care
By Beth Janicek
There was an excellent article about medical mistakes on the front page of the San Antonio Express News this Sunday. The article states that the leading cause of accidental death in America is mistakes made in medical care. According to the Hearst report,
'The Texas discharge records showed there were at least 29 deaths at 15 San Antonio hospitals in 2007 resulting from low-risk procedures.'
In fact, experts estimate that 98,000 people die from preventable medical errors each year, which means that more Americans die each month of preventable medical injuries than died in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
The official number one cause of accidental deaths in the United States is motor vehicle accidents, accounting for about 43,600 deaths. The next three causes, poisoning, firearms, and falls account for 90,000 deaths. These statistics show that if medical errors and infections were better tracked, they would easily be at the top of the list.
Ten years ago, 'To Err is Human: Building Safer Health System,' a highly publicized federal report challenged the medical community to cut it in half within five years. Unfortunately, federal analysts believe the rate of medical error is actually increasing. The report outlined steps that the medical community, the federal government, and most states have failed to take. A national investigation by Hearst Newspapers found that states such as California that have regulations in place often ignore the rules without penalty.
The Texas law that required hospitals to report medical errors expired in 2007, and while lawmakers restored the reporting requirement, it has yet to be funded. A Hearst data analysis showed that in five states – Texas, New York, California, Washington, and Connecticut – only 20 percent of 1,434 hospitals surveyed are participating in two national safety campaigns begun in recent years. Also, a detailed safety analysis examined discharge records from 1,832 hospitals and medical facilities in four of those states (including Texas) and found major deficiencies in patient data that states collect from hospitals. Nevertheless, they still found a minimum of 16 percent of hospitals had at least one death from common procedures.
Originally posted at InjuryBoard by Beth Janicek
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