Medical errors still a leading cause of death in America — 5 things to know

Medical errors rank third among the leading causes of death in the United States, according to some studies cited in a recent Vox article.

They are ahead of car crashes, new disease outbreaks, breast cancer, AIDS, plane crashes and drug over doses. Here are five things to know from the article:

1. Around 2 percent to 3 percent of the people who go into hospitals receive severe harm as a result.

2. Errors can be caused by simple things such as messy handwriting or getting the drug dosage wrong in addition to wrong site surgery and infections.

3. Estimates run from 44,000 to 98,000 Americans die each year as a result of medical errors, but when asked to estimate the number of medical error deaths, both physicians and the general public said around 5,000.

4. Errors with medical prescriptions were linked to 7,000 deaths annually.

5. Many medical errors go unreported, in part because physicians are embarrassed and afraid of lawsuits.

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