A recent analysis published in the BMJ highlighted the issue of medical errors. It stated that if medical errors was a disease it would rank as the third highest cause of death in the United States. Even in the US, the problem is not very clear as the cause of death does not usually reflect if errors were part of this process.
It did mention that human error is inevitable but with better data capture and analysis, we can design safer systems to minimise errors. Everyone plays a role in reducing errors from individual doctors to the hospital systems. The pictorial below from the article sums it up nicely.
In Malaysia, the problem is not well studied. An article published in 2012 based on a cross sectional study of 14 clinics in Malaysia, 40% of errors were potentially harmful and 93.5% of them are preventable. 98% of the medical records had illegible handwriting!
It is important to address this “sensitive” issue in the right way to protect patients and doctors alike. Making the process transparent can add value and trust in the healthcare system. Most importantly, we want a safer medical system!
Medical error—the third leading cause of death in the US, BMJ 2016; 353 (Published 03 May 2016)
Cite this as: BMJ 2016;353:i2139
Ee Ming Khoo , Wai Khew Lee, Sondi Sararaks, Azah Abdul Samad, Su May Liew, Ai Theng Cheong, Mohd Yusof Ibrahim, Sebrina HC Su, Ainul Nadziha Mohd Hanafiah, Kalsom Maskon, Rohana Ismail and Maimunah A Hamid, Medical errors in primary care clinics – a cross sectional study, BMC Family Practice 2012 13:127,DOI: 10.1186/1471-2296-13-127