A recent article published in the British Medical Journal looked into the number of deaths due to medical errors. They found that about a quarter million deaths a year are due to medical errors. That would make medical error deaths more prominent than deaths due to diseases such as chronic lung disease and third to Heart Disease and Cancer.
This is a very curious and scary statistic. In a way it is a great statistic because it brings up an issue that as far as I know has not been well studied and quantified. It also bring to light the different mechanisms of avoiding errors in the hospital. In other words the statistic really is asking: Do the regulatory mechanisms in place actually work? This might also be a good statistic for insurance companies and give them a reason to increase their rates. Of course in general this is a bad piece of information for any of the living and especially those of us planning long hospital stays in the near future. I think this article is a good example of science and statistics influencing the general public. It is a very easy to digest statistic. It is something that everyone can understand and is very understandable due to the common knowledge of the other diseases it is being related to. Hopefully this awareness will translate into reform that decreases these horrible deaths every year.