Medical Errors Third Leading Cause of Death, Senators Told

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media , July 18, 2014

At a Senate subcommittee hearing, hospital quality experts urge lawmakers to establish measures to halt preventable medical errors in hospitals, which kill as many as 400,000 people each year.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's role in quality of care should be greatly expanded to reduce many more types of patient harm, several leading healthcare quality leaders told members of the Senate Subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging Thursday.

"There's no reason to think what [the CDC] has been able to do around [healthcare-associated infections] they can't do in other areas like venous thromboembolism and medication errors, and they can partner with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration," said Ashish Jha, MD, founder of the Initiative on Global Health quality at the Harvard School of Public Health.

"The CDC has a phenomenal track record (through the National Healthcare Safety Network reporting program), this is a public health problem, and the CDC is our public health agency. They have a central role to play."

Peter Pronovost, MD, senior vice president for patient safety and quality at Johns Hopkins Medicine, urged the panel to "charge the CDC with developing monitoring and transparently reporting incident rates on the top causes of harm. They [the NHSN] do it for hospital-acquired infections now and they know how to do it for others."

Subcommittee chairman Sen. Bernie Sanders, (I-VT), called the hearing to publicize statistics showing that preventable medical errors in hospitals kill as many as 400,000 people each year, making it the third most common cause of death in America.

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6 comments on "Medical Errors Third Leading Cause of Death, Senators Told"


Joanne Scheibe (4/2/2015 at 7:05 AM)
Many of us believe hospitals are safe places? And why wouldn't we? We trust that the doctors, nurses, medical personnel and the hospital administration have our health and well-being as their top priority. However . . . unless you have a clear understanding, and are aware of exactly what these institutions are capable of offering; your health is in JEOPARDY! http://medicaljeopardy.com/

Danny Long (7/22/2014 at 4:31 PM)
1857: Florence Nightingale pushed for a government review of the health of the British army, and thanks to her efforts a Royal Commission, the equivalent of a congressional hearing, was granted and held in 1857. Swift audit of clinical records is mandated, with swift enforcement of 1035 false statements in healthcare matters law. see full text: http://shellyskalicky.blogspot.com/p/blog-page_22.html

Lydia RAmos (7/21/2014 at 3:04 PM)
From a nurses perspective has anyone seen the nursing ratios per patient. YOu will find that all hosptials are short staffed of RN's. Hospitals used to be safe however with the lack of enough nurses this will continue to occur if you do not have enough nurses to take care of patients,administer medications, do treatments, and all nursing functions now given to nursing. Team Nursing is still the best model where you have an RN, LVN adminiters medications and then your Nursing Assistant does baths, ambulation of patients etc. However fault of corporate hospitals and Nursing leaders who feel team nursing is the old model;however this one isn't working. Nurse for 43 years, and still working. Lydia Ramos RN 140 La Union ST. Anthony, NM 88021

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