Unsubstantiated reports of 50 lakh deaths annually due to me

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Unsubstantiated reports of 50 lakh deaths annually due to medical negligence carried by all 'premiere' dailies in India 

Report by PTI suggests that as per a Harvard study, 5 mn Indians die due to medical negligence; report carried verbatim by all leading dailies without any fact-verification 


The fake news

Recently the News Agency Press Trust of India published a story claiming that as per a study conducted by Harvard University last year, there are as many as 50 lakh deaths every year in India due to medical negligence. The report also provides a solution to the issue. The report suggests that half of these deaths can be prevented by taking a specialised course called Acute Critical Care Course (ACCC). This report was carried verbatim by most leading publications (The Week, The Hindu, India Times, ET Health World etc.) with varying titles.

One media outlet called OpIndia stood out and questioned the absurd numbers thrown up in the original article. Opindia, after conducting background research, concluded that the story was fake. Some of the key excerpts from the OpIndia article:

“…The study from Harvard School of Public Health from 2013 states that about 5.2 million injuries (not deaths) take place in India due to medical negligence. Moreover, the Harvard School of Public Health report is from September 2013 and not last year as talked about by PTI…”

“…The death rate in India currently is 7.3 per thousand people while the population is pegged at about 133.92 crore (approximately). So based on the calculations, between 97 to 99 lakh people die in India every year. Of which about 45 lakh deaths are recorded for people over the age of 60 years. Going by these statistics, if PTI report is to be believed as many as almost every other person who died in India died due to medical errors. Over and above that, there is a difference between medical error and medical negligence. Medical error would be an error in planning or executing an action. Using adverse drug, improper transfusion, surgical injuries, etc are medical or clinical errors. On the other hand, an action by a doctor or a medical professional which leads to one suffering an avoidable injury is medical negligence…”

Read the OpIndia article here: https://pxmd.co/eIw9K

Laughable conclusions

The PTI article makes some very laughable conclusions:

1. The article asserts that 50 lakh Indians i.e. 1 in every 2 deaths in India happens due to medical negligence. And all this while we were taught that Infections, Cardiovascular diseases, TB, AIDS and RTAs were the major causes of death!!

2. The article also offers a magic pill. It states that half of these deaths can be prevented by taking a course called ACCC (Acute Critical Care Course). A simple google search on the "ACCC course" and various combinations with the names of course faculties mentioned in the PTI article does not bring up any authentic course information. We wonder, why spend on building hospitals, ensuring adequate staff, providing quality medicines and improving sanitation and reducing pollution when we can simply reduce 25 lakh deaths every year by just taking one course!!

Who cares?

The problem with fake news like the story by PTI is that they sound interesting, get eyeballs and are forward worthy. Who cares if it is true or false. Who cares if a million doctors' reputation is being tarnished as long as the story gets a million page-views! 


About Author
Lakshay Chotiya
Lakshay Chotiya is an analyst at PlexusMD and is a part of the Editorial Team. He is a B.Tech graduate from Indian Institute of Information Technology, Vadodara. He likes learning new things and writing. When not working, he is either exploring new places, binge-watching, meeting new people or playing strategic games.
About PlexusMD Learning
PlexusMD Learning tracks 1000+ Journals, Health agencies and Medical associations worldwide and engages with senior medical professionals across specialties to discover and share the latest news and developments, guidelines and stories of interest.
Dr. J●●●r T●●●●●●●a and 14 others like this11 shares
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R●●●l L●●●●r
R●●●l L●●●●r General Medicine
We Agreed with our current medical status is not so much good in India. but 50 lakh deaths due to medical negligency just can' t imagine , that' s a fake news obviously because each 2 years 1 cr death , isn' t a hilarious thing ? It means doctors are made for kill patient ...nice move taken by some journalist to make a joke like this on doctors... we need to !!!!Stop This...!!!!
Nov 4, 2018Like1
Dr. P●●●●●p D●b
Dr. P●●●●●p D●b Urology
It is fake news. But so is every other news story in the media today. Many doctor' s personally have chosen political sides (based on fake news), and continue to share such news via social media. This is especially true for the older generation of physicians, and on Facebook (their preferred medium). Differing points of view are silenced by the majority. If there is no decent public discourse over issues, the alternate point of view gets lost. Doctors must be vocal on sites such as news websites and counter, decently the vicious comments of lay people. That will give most of us sitting in our cozy comfort an idea about the level of mistrust which Indians have about doctors. We must sue news media for biased reports. This is especially true of hindi and other regional language news papers and tv ( which the vast majority of Indians follow), which run campaigns against allopathic doctors. As a corollary, we must also be ready to accept the harsh reality that deaths due to medical errors ( not negligence) have to be very high in a populous country like India due to the sheer number of patients and opportunities for human errors to arise. Of course healthcare is quite cheap in India compared to the ready of the world, and there is very little money to spend on audits and analysis by individual hospitals and doctors. For better results, huge investments in health are required by the government; otherwise the lay people have to be ready to spend amounts equivalent to the US (a lap.cholecystectomy which costs around Rs.15000 or less in most Indian cities can cost around 30 lakhs in the US). We must keep in mind the landmark Institute of Medicine Report of 1999 in our minds if Indian doctors are to improve their results . Fake news is a global epidemic and must be fought at all levels. Otherwise every profession is bound to suffer when the cocks come home to roost, as they say.... Read more
Nov 4, 2018Like3
Dr. R●●●●V K●●●R
Dr. R●●●●V K●●●R Paediatrics
Media has just become blackmailers now a days.
Nov 7, 2018Like