A new study has suggested that medical errors are now the number three leading cause of death in the United States.
According to researchers from Johns Hopkins who studied death rate records spanning eight years, over 250,000 Americans die from medical mishaps every year.
According to data by CDC, heart disease is America’s current leading cause of death, killing more that 611,000 people every year. Cancer, on the other hand kills over 584,000 people every year.
With the recent study’s numbers, Medical error comes in third–showing that it kills more people than respiratory illnesses like bronchitis and emphysema.
The study, published on BMJ, looked at four previous studies that examined death rate information. The researchers found that there are at least 251,454 caused by medical errors in the United States every year. This may exclude deaths in nursing homes because they are not usually counted, so the number could be much higher.
Study leader Martin Makary, a professor of surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School, said that the medical errors category include communication problems and bad doctors.
“It boils down to people dying from the care that they receive rather than the disease for which they are seeking care,” said Makary.
The American Hospital Association reacted to the report by highlighting a decline in hospital-acquired conditions in in the pas few years. They added that important progress has been made since 2008, which is the latest year that the study has examined.
“Most recently, the Department of Health and Human Services estimated that through the hard work of hospitals, physicians and others, hospital-acquired conditions declined by 17%, saving 87,000 lives between 2010 and 2014,” said association officials in a statement. “Hospitals are constantly working to improve patient safety. But there is more work to do and hospitals are committed to quickly adopting what works into every step of care provided.”