It feels like every month there is a new article that, rightly so, decries the current state of our medical profession and how medical errors are leaving innocent people with catastrophic or fatal injuries. This week, we find ourselves reading another one of these articles, and it will make you wonder where the medical profession should go from here.

Researchers at John Hopkins found that medical mistakes that relate to four areas of human error — skill and coordination of care, diagnostic errors, system defects, and preventable adverse effects — combine to be the third leading cause of death of Americans if you look at the data from 2013. In that year, heart disease (611,105 deaths) and cancer (584,881 deaths) were the two leading causes. Medical errors in the four areas listed above totaled 251,454 deaths, putting it solidly in third.

This is a startling figure no matter when you read it, but you could easily look back through the years and see these types of articles over time. Medical errors aren’t new, and their fatal effects are a known commodity (if you want to call it a commodity). So now the startling aspect of the story is that they keep happening, and that it doesn’t appear to be getting any better.

Patients need to be able to trust their medical professionals. With the medical error numbers as they are, it is tough to fully trust things. Negligent medical professionals, or even ones that make honest mistakes, should be held accountable when a patient suffers.

Source: Watertown Public Opinion, “Medical mistakes kill more Americans than strokes, Alzheimer’s,” Jennifer Graham, July 26, 2017