If this article from CBS News is to be believed, medical error is the third leading cause of death in the United States:
Medical errors, including wrong diagnoses, botched surgeries and medication mistakes, are the third leading cause of death in the United States, a new study suggests.
Scientists from Johns Hopkins found that more than 250,000 Americans die due to medical mishaps every year, greater than the toll from any major medical condition except heart disease or cancer.
The findings, published in The BMJ, come from an analysis of death rate records spanning eight years.
I have considerable sympathy for the medical professionals on this score. When you intervene, some of the patients will die. That’s just the way it is. And sometimes you make mistakes. To err is human.
There are any number of ways to reduce the rate of medical error. The most obvious is to curb the predisposition to intervene.
Another is something that the medical profession has been fighting a vain, inevitably losing battle against for decades: automation. Computers don’t tire, don’t rush so they can make it to their daughters’ dance recitals, and don’t need vacations. Increasingly, computers are looking over physicians’ shoulders and that’s something that will only increase. And that will reduce the rate of medical error.