David W. Bates, MD, MSc; Atul A. Gawande, MD, MPH
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Bates D., Gawande A.; Error in Medicine. Ann Intern Med. 2001;134:342. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-134-4-200102200-00022
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Published: Ann Intern Med. 2001;134(4):342.
Dr. Dunn brings up the controversy over the annual number of deaths related to iatrogenic injuries in the United States. The figure we cited—180 000 iatrogenic deaths—comes from the Medical Practice Study (1) and refers to the total number of deaths due to injury. Just over half of these deaths were deemed preventable, resulting in the Institute of Medicine's upper end figure of 98 000. We believe that given the importance of the problem, too few relevant data are available, and that whatever the actual point estimate is, it is too high. Furthermore, the problem of injuries associated with errors is huge, with an estimated 1.3 million injuries per year (2). Error in medicine is vitally important and is only now getting the attention it deserves.
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