The PMD Critical List: Study Suggests Medical Error Is Nation's Third-Leading Cause of Death

A new study suggest medical errors account for more than 250,000 deaths each year in the US. That story tops this week’s PMD Critical List. Also making the list: An investigative report questioning the marketing of OxyContin, and new concerns about children and cell phone use.

A new study suggest medical errors account for more than 250,000 deaths each year in the US. That story tops this week’s PMD Critical List. Also making the list: An investigative report questioning the marketing of OxyContin, and new concerns about children and cell phone use.

Medical Error a Leading Cause of US Deaths (Washington Post)

A new analysis published in the BMJ “shows that ‘medical errors’ in hospitals and other healthcare facilities are incredibly common and may now be the third-leading cause of death in the United States—claiming 251,000 lives every year.”

Are Doctors Overprescribing Antibiotics? (ABC News)

A new US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study on the overuse of antibiotics revealed that 47 million prescriptions each year are medically unnecessary. “We’re seeing a big rise in antibiotic-resistant infections, so when you take an antibiotic when it’s not giving you any benefit, you risk that the next time you take one, it’s not going to work for you.”

‘The Big OxyContin Lie (Los Angeles Times)

A major newspaper investigation “found that not only did Purdue Pharma, the makers of OxyContin, provide incomplete information to the FDA, they also falsely marketed the drug to doctors as having much longer lasting effects than were demonstrated during clinical trials.”

Cell Phones Linked to Cancer in Children (CBS)

“For years, we’ve heard of a possible link between cell phone use and cancer. Now, this week, Environmental Health Trust researchers say the evidence is clear, and children are more at risk.” And the US lags “behind other countries when it comes to radiation research and prevention.”

Bedpans and Why Doctors Should Get Good with Them (WBUR’s CommonHealth)

A humorous/serious essay by a Yale School of Medicine professor: “As a doctor myself, I was embarrassed that I didn’t know how to help. I didn’t learn bedpan basics in medical school … and most doctors, like me, would rather volunteer to hunt for someone else to do this than just getting the job done.”

Interview with Respected Physician-Columnist (Quartz)

An intriguing Q&A with Dr. Lisa Sanders, who writes the “Think Like a Doctor” column for the New York Times—which was also the inspiration for the TV show “House.” She says: “the doctor knows a lot about bodies and diseases, but the patient is actually the exclusive expert on their body and their diseases.”

Growing Physician Leaders (The Hill)

Doctors lead fewer than 5% of the nation’s 6,500 hospitals, says a former top US Army general now working in healthcare. “Our physicians rightly want a seat at the table, but in order to gain that seat, they must first learn the required ‘table manners’ associated with leading others, leading teams, and building effective and efficient organizations.” He’s written a book on the subject.

New York City’s ‘Hell’ Hospital (New York Post)

In this day and age? A pediatrician who spent three years as a resident at Coney Island Hospital claims in this essay that the city-run institution is plagued by “chronic negligence, unqualified care, and poor supervision.”

Government Can’t Make Better Doctors (Forbes)

Hard-hitting essay: “For as long as I have been in health policy—more than 30 years—I have been dealing with non-doctors who have a deep, abiding desire to tell doctors what to do. Yet I don’t know of any example anywhere in the world where this approach has ever worked.”