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November 1, 2000

How Many Deaths Are Due to Medical Errors?

Author Affiliations

Stephen J.LurieMD, PhD, Senior EditorIndividualAuthorPhil B.FontanarosaMD, Executive Deputy EditorIndividualAuthor

JAMA. 2000;284(17):2187. doi:10.1001/jama.284.17.2184

To the Editor: Dr McDonald and colleagues1 provide an important critique of the IOM report2 on medical errors and of the Harvard Medical Practice Study (MPS)3 that is integral to it. McDonald et al correctly argue that the basis of estimating death rates due to medical adverse events was inappropriate because a high-severity group was chosen for analysis without a control group to provide context and because a causal relationship was not established between the existence of adverse events and subsequent death.

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