Doctors make mistakes. Human error is inevitable. However, can medical mistakes be prevented?

According to a study done by the British Medical Journal, medical errors in American hospitals have become the number three cause of death in the United States. This means that human error is responsible for more fatalities than chronic respiratory disease, which ranks third on the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s list. In 2013, at least 250,000 people died not from illnesses or injuries that prompted patients to seek hospital care, but from preventable mistakes.

Medical records evidence cases in which patients received medications they were allergic to or even instances where a computer program made a mistake. According to Dr. David Classen, an associate professor at the University of Utah, “It’s no longer one single physician taking care of a single person at a hospital. It’s these huge groups of people now, and mistakes get made.”

It is not realistic to expect human error to be eliminated in health care; however; the study concluded that protocols, standardized data collection, and reporting these errors can be put in place to create a culture of learning from our mistakes in the hopes of reducing the number of fatalities.