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Why Are Medical Errors Still a Leading Cause of Death?

   May 24, 2017

When ICD codes were first adopted nearly 70 years ago, medical mistakes weren’t broadly recognized as a cause of death. And in a culture where the emphasis is placed on assigning blame for problems rather than seeking solutions for improvement, there has been seemingly little interest in a broad, high-level investigation of strategies for reducing systemic medical errors and their impact on patient mortality. But by not capturing this data, healthcare organizations are losing out on a strong opportunity for improvement.

Makary and Daniel emphasize in their article that medical errors can’t solely be attributed to bad doctors. Most are the result of systemic problems stemming from challenges such as poorly coordinated care, fragmented insurance networks, or the lack or underuse of safety nets, as well as variation across physician practice patterns that lack accountability.

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