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November 20, 2002

Counting Deaths Due to Medical Errors

Author Affiliations

Stephen J.LurieMD, PhD, Senior Editor


Not Available

JAMA. 2002;288(19):2404. doi:10.1001/jama.288.19.2404-JLT1120-2-2

To the Editor: Quoting statistics derived from the Harvard Medical Practice Study (HMPS), Dr Leape and colleagues1 remark upon "The epidemiologic finding that . . . nearly 100 000 [hospital] deaths occur in the United States annually as a result of mistakes in medical care. . . . "1 I believe that authors need to stop perpetuating this number of "100 000 hospital deaths," a statistic for which there is no valid epidemiologic evidence.24 This dramatic statistic is largely the by-product of bias introduced by a combination of outlier opinion and the low reliability of physician-implicit review (the method used to produce almost all published estimates of deaths and injuries due to medical errors).24

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