To err is human, for a doctor to apologize is uncommon
Medical error is the 3rd leading cause of death in US after heart disease and cancer, according to findings published in the BMJ.
But accurate, transparent information about errors is not captured on death certificates.
Death certificates depend on International Classification of Diseases (ICD) codes for cause of death, so causes such as human and system errors are not recorded on them. According to WHO 117 countries used ICD system.
The report published in the BMJ examined four studies that analyzed medical death rate data from 2000 to 2008. Then, using hospital admission rates from 2013, they extrapolated that, based on 35,416,020 hospitalizations, 251,454 deaths occurred due to a medical error. This number of deaths translates to 9.5% of all deaths each year in the US, and places medical error above the previous third-leading cause, respiratory disease.
In 2013, 611,105 people died of heart disease, 584,881 died of cancer, and 149,205 died of chronic respiratory disease. The new estimates are considerably higher than those in the 1999 Institute of Medicine report "To Err Is Human."
The statistics of errors may be more if we include doctors' offices and ambulatory care centers.