Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:


Medical error—the third leading cause of death in the US

BMJ 2016; 353 doi: (Published 03 May 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;353:i2139

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Re: Medical error—the third leading cause of death in the US

I read this article with interest since I am interested in quality measures in health outcomes; and, as well, I am interested in data science methods. I don't doubt the statistics cited by the authors; however, how those statistics were reported, in their raw form, is not useful; and, possibly misleading. Medical care delivery is complex encompassing many independent and dependent variables and even more complex intervening variables and certainly many confounding variables. Thus it seems that a great deal of multivariate and logistic regression data science methodology must be applied before we hit the scientific or popular press with a shock value number to report. If this level of data were presented to me by a doctoral candidate as a proof for the Ph.D. dissertation defense, I would not find it at all acceptable. Of course, the raw data intrigues me and I would certainly begin asking many questions about the data; and what data was not included in the report. Certainly, there was no sophisticated analysis that sheds either descriptive or inferential analysis of the raw data.

Dr. Michael W. Popejoy, Ph.D., Ed.D., M.B.A., M.P.H., M.H.S.A., FRSPH, FAMEPPA
Orlando, FL USA

Competing interests: No competing interests

16 July 2016
Michael W. Popejoy
Public Health/Public Administration
Fellow Royal Society for Public Health and Fellow Association for Middle Eastern Public Policy and Administration
2406 S. Bumby Ave. Orlando, FL 32806