Five Ways to Decrease Deaths from Medical Errors

June 24, 2016 | Strategic Insights for Ambulatory Care


​Medical error is the third leading cause of death in the United States, according to one study (see the May 27, 2016, Physician Practice E-News), and a May 17, 2016, commentary in the Wall Street Journal outlined five reforms that could decrease its frequency. Medical error kills between 210,000 and 440,000 Americans each year, the author said, ranking it behind only cancer and heart disease. First, the author suggests the adoption of structured patient handoffs, because miscommunications during care transitions caused two-thirds of the deaths and serious injuries from medical error, according to the Joint Commission. A study showed that structured handoffs can reduce adverse events by 30%, the author said. Second, improving communication between pharmacists and doctors can help minimize errors.

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