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by The Vaccine Reaction  Staff

A new report published by the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 2.6 million people die annually in low-and middle-income countries from medical errors, and that most of those deaths are related to misdiagnosis and administration of pharmaceutical products.

According to the WHO, “Four out of every ten patients are harmed during primary and ambulatory health care. The most detrimental errors are related to diagnosis, prescription and the use of medicines.”

The WHO believes that the impact of the harm to victims of these mistakes made by doctors and other health care providers leads to financial losses of trillions of dollars.

“Medication errors alone cost an estimated US$42 billion annually. Unsafe surgical care procedures cause complications in up to 25% of patients resulting in 1 million deaths during or immediately after surgery annually,” notes the WHO.

“No one should be harmed while receiving health care. And yet globally, at least 5 patients die every minute because of unsafe care,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, MD. “We need a patient safety culture that promotes partnership with patients, encourages reporting and learning from errors, and creates a blame-free environment where health workers are empowered and trained to reduce errors.”

The WHO report comes on the heels of an international study, which contained information on 337,025 patients (including in the United States) and was led by clinical psychologist Maria Panagioti, PhD of the University of Manchester, England. Titled “Prevalence, severity, and nature of preventable patient harm across medical care settings: systematic review and meta-analysis” and published in The BMJ on July 17, 2019, that study found one in 10 patients suffered harm as a result of their medical care and 12 percent of those cases led to permanent disability or death.

“Our study finds that most harm relates to medication, and this is one core area that preventative strategies could focus on,” Dr. Panagioti said. Nearly half of the incidents of harm involved drugs and other therapies.

Internist Albert Wu, MD of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health confirms that Dr. Panagioti’s study is among the largest studies ever done on the “frequency and severity of patient harm” and that it offers “evidence that these harms occur in all medical settings.”

A 2016 study published in The BMJ identified medical error as the third leading cause of death in the U.S. The study, which was co-authored by Martin Makary, MD and research fellow Michael Daniel of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, determined that medical errors accounted for about 251,000 deaths every year in the U.S., which made medical error-related deaths the third leading cause of death surpassed only by heart disease (614,348) and cancer (591,699).

“We are burying a population the size of Miami every year from medical errors that can be prevented,” said Leah Binder, CEO of the health care watchdog organization The Leapfrog Group.

References:

Albert Wu, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Leah Binder, Marco Cáceres, Maria Panagioti, Martin Makary, medical error, Michael Daniel, National Vaccine Information Center, NVIC, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, The BMJ, The Leapfrog Group, The Vaccine Reaction, University of Manchester, WHO, World Health Organization

Originally published November 23, 2019.

See an earlier Report given below :

Johns Hopkins study suggests medical errors are third-leading cause of death in U.S.

Physicians advocate for changes in how deaths are reported

By Vanessa McMains

Published May 4, 2016

Analyzing medical death rate data over an eight-year period, Johns Hopkins patient safety experts have calculated that more than 250,000 deaths per year are due to medical error in the U.S. Their figure, published May 3 in The BMJ, surpasses the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s third leading cause of death—respiratory disease, which kills close to 150,000 people per year.

The researchers caution that most medical errors aren’t due to inherently bad doctors, and that reporting these errors shouldn’t be addressed by punishment or legal action. Rather, they say, most errors represent systemic problems, including poorly coordinated care, fragmented insurance networks, the absence or underuse of safety nets, and other protocols, in addition to unwarranted variation in physician practice patterns that lack accountability.

The Johns Hopkins team says the CDC’s way of collecting national health statistics fails to classify medical errors separately on the death certificate. The researchers are advocating for updated criteria for classifying deaths on death certificates.

“Incidence rates for deaths directly attributable to medical care gone awry haven’t been recognized in any standardized method for collecting national statistics,” says Martin Makary, professor of surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and an authority on health reform. “The medical coding system was designed to maximize billing for physician services, not to collect national health statistics, as it is currently being used.”

Dr. Martin Makary, Professor of Surgery

In 1949, Makary says, the U.S. adopted an international form that used International Classification of Diseases billing codes to tally causes of death.

“At that time, it was under-recognized that diagnostic errors, medical mistakes, and the absence of safety nets could result in someone’s death,” says Makary, “and because of that, medical errors were unintentionally excluded from national health statistics.”

In their study, the researchers examined four separate studies that analyzed medical death rate data from 2000 to 2008. Then, using hospital admission rates from 2013, they extrapolated that based on a total of 35,416,020 hospitalizations, 251,454 deaths stemmed from a medical error, which the researchers say now translates to 9.5 percent of all deaths each year in the U.S.

According to the CDC, in 2013, 611,105 people died of heart disease, 584,881 died of cancer, and 149,205 died of chronic respiratory disease—the top three causes of death in the U.S. The newly calculated figure for medical errors puts this cause of death behind cancer but ahead of respiratory disease.

“Top-ranked causes of death as reported by the CDC inform our country’s research funding and public health priorities,” Makary says. “Right now, cancer and heart disease get a ton of attention, but since medical errors don’t appear on the list, the problem doesn’t get the funding and attention it deserves.”

The researchers caution that most medical errors aren’t due to inherently bad doctors, and that reporting these errors shouldn’t be addressed by punishment or legal action. Rather, they say, most errors represent systemic problems, including poorly coordinated care, fragmented insurance networks, the absence or underuse of safety nets, and other protocols, in addition to unwarranted variation in physician practice patterns that lack accountability.

“Unwarranted variation is endemic in health care,” Makary says. “Developing consensus protocols that streamline the delivery of medicine and reduce variability can improve quality and lower costs in health care. More research on preventing medical errors from occurring is needed to address the problem.”

Posted in Health

https://hub.jhu.edu/2016/05/03/medical-errors-third-leading-cause-of-death/


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