Nov 21, 2013 • 24M

Are Medical Errors the Third Leading Cause of Death in America?: A Conversation with Rosemary Gibson (November 21st)

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Appears in this episode

David Introcaso, Ph.D.
Podcast interviews with health policy experts on timely subjects. The Healthcare Policy Podcast website features audio interviews with healthcare policy experts on timely topics. An online public forum routinely presenting expert healthcare policy analysis and comment is lacking. While other healthcare policy website programming exists, these typically present vested interest viewpoints or do not combine informed policy analysis with political insight or acumen. Since healthcare policy issues are typically complex, clear, reasoned, dispassionate discussion is required. These podcasts will attempt to fill this void. Among other topics this podcast will address: Implementation of the Affordable Care Act Other federal Medicare and state Medicaid health care issues Federal health care regulatory oversight, moreover CMS and the FDA Healthcare research Private sector healthcare delivery reforms including access, reimbursement and quality issues Public health issues including the social determinants of health Listeners are welcomed to share their program comments and suggest programming ideas. Comments made by the interviewees are strictly their own and do not represent those of their affiliated organization/s.
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In 1999 the Institute of Medicine published "To Err Is Human," a report that shocked the medical establishment because it concluded as many as 98,000 Americans die annually from hospital caused medical errors.  In 2000 the highly respected scholar Dr. Barbara Starfield estimated medical errors or adverse events actually amount to 225,000 deaths annually making them the 3rd leading cause of death after heart disease and cancer.   Most recently a study published this past September in the Journal of Patient Safety estimated medical errors cause between 210,000 to 440,000 deaths annually.  Added to these sobering estimates is the fact there's never been an actual count of how many patients have been killed by medical errors and what progress that has been made in reducing errors, or at least the growth in the number of errors, has been charterized as "frustratingly slow" and "agonizingly slow."

During this 23 minute intereview Ms. Gibson discusses the prevalence of medical errors and why she believes the rate of medical harm is actually getting worse.  She explains why she believes both the medical community's response as well as federal and state government responses have been inadequate and what is needed to reverse this extraordinary number of medical-related deaths.       

Ms. Rosemary Gibson is a Senior Advisor at the non-profit Hasting Center, a research organization dedicated to addressing ethical issues in health, medicine and the environment.  Ms. Gibson is also an editor for JAMA Internal Medicine.  Previously, Ms. Gibson was a Program Officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation where she addressed safety and quality issues particularly in palliative care.  Among other books Ms. Gibson is the author of "Wall of Silence, The Untold Story of the Medical Mistakes That Kill and Injure Millions of Americans."  Ms. Gibson serves on numerous boards including the Consumers Union Safe Project and among others she received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine.  Ms. Gibson is a graduate of Georgetown University and the London School of Economics.

To learn more about Ms. Gibson's work go to: