By Dr. Mercola
Medical mistakes are made in the operating room, in the emergency room and in the doctor’s office. And, unfortunately, the mistakes made by doctors, nurses and pharmaceutical companies still are the third leading cause of death in the U.S. Statistics from a study originally published in 20001 have not changed in the 17 years since its publication.
Authors in the Canadian Journal of Surgery believe medical errors represent a serious public health problem and a threat to patient safety.2 The definition of a medical error often rests on patient outcome, or rather if there was a negative outcome from a medication or procedure.
Some research suggests 250,000 people die each year from medical errors and millions more who are harmed by drug-related mistakes.3 However, as frightening as the number of people dying from medical error is, some suggest it is only the tip of the iceberg.4
The purpose of understanding the numbers is not to scare you, but rather to help you understand how you can take control of your health even inside the health care system. Making informed choices and using proven tools to reduce your risk of illness by maintaining optimal health are strategies you may use to reduce your personal risk of injury at the hand of another.
Some medical errors have resulted in drastic changes in the standards of medical care, but often only after tragedies and long years of work to change an ingrained system. For instance, in 1982, ABC highlighted cases of anesthesia mistakes that resulted in injury or death, but it wasn’t until 1985 before a program of standardized anesthesia care and monitoring was put into place to avert those errors.5
As a general rule,…