When I started out as a doctor in 1999, the Institute of Medicine published a blockbuster report that declared that up to 98,000 people were dying in United States hospitals each year as a result of preventable medical errors. Just a few months ago, a study in the BMJ declared that number has now risen to more than 250,000, making preventable medical errors in hospitals the third-largest cause of death in the country in 2013.
Those numbers warrant some further reflection. Although medical errors should concern us all, these statistics are more controversial than you might think. That’s the topic of this week’s Healthcare Triage.