A new study questions the record-keeping practices of hospitals and nursing homes. It concludes that errors could rank just behind heart disease and cancer, in the number of fatalities they cause.

A study by researchers at the prestigious Johns Hopkins Medical Centre in the United States suggest that medical errors should rank as the third-leading cause of death. The study also raises the issue of how deaths are actually recorded. The study indicates that inaccurate coding is thwarting research into the contentious issue, and keep it out of the public arena.


The Johns Hopkins study estimates that more than 250,000 Americans die each year from medical errors. This puts medical errors just behind heart disease and cancer, which each took about 600,000 lives in 2014, and in front of respiratory disease, which caused about 150,000 deaths.

Hospital errors include surgical complications that go unrecognized, medication errors, hospital acquired infections and patient’s deteriation being ignored.

Marty Makary is an American surgeon and New York Times best-selling author. He is a tireless advocate for transparency in medicine and developing common-sense solutions. He developed The Surgical Checklist while at Johns Hopkins, which was popularized in Atul Gawande’s best-selling book Checklist Manifesto. He also published the book Unaccountable with Bloomsbury press.  

Are Medical Errors Deadlier that Strokes and Alzheimers? The Atlantic. 4th May 2016.