INDIANAPOLIS - New findings published in the medical journal BMJ list medical errors as the third leading cause of death in the United States.
The new report from the BMJ brings together evidence from multiple studies and CDC information that determines over 250,000 people die every year because of medical mistakes, placing the cause third behind heart disease and cancer.
The information doesn’t break down statewide but experts at the Indianapolis-based Regenstrief Institute agree that it’s probably accurate.
Regenstrief Investigator Dr. Michael (Mick) Murray works on the pharmaceutical side and says medication errors alone are a major issue.
"We have four billion prescriptions written in the United States each year and a million outpatients experience an adverse drug event that requires hospitalization," Murray said.
Indiana is ahead of the pack when it comes to care coordination. The Indiana Health Information Exchange was developed in 2004 to provide better care coordination and is based on electronic medical record work the Regenstrief Institute was pioneering in the early 1970’s.
"Many of these programs and information systems allow us to catch these errors before they can occur so they are intercepted," explained Murray.
Regenstrief researcher Dr. Paul Dexter, emphasized that improvements also have to be made in reporting errors.
"You have to learn from your mistakes so the big thing in health care systems these days is learning systems, so that every time something is imperfect you figure out why and you improve," Dexter said.
Medical errors were not listed in the CDC’s annual report on leading causes of death because the International Classification of Disease coding system doesn’t include most of these errors.