Aircrew vs Provider Error

80% is a number I never forgot from pilot training.

upside down80% of aircraft mishaps are found to be pilot or aircrew error. The annual Nall report cites between 73-81% of general aviation fix-wing crashes and fatalities were “pilot-related” in 2012. (AOPA, 2015) The FAA says 85% in one of their training manuals. (FAA, 2009) Knowing that if I died while flying it would most likely be my fault really caught my attention. It is a very personal statistic that I considered often, especially while planning and flying in a two-seat jet. If I made a mistake that killed myself, I would almost surely take my backseater with me.

“To Err is Human,” published in 1999, is probably the most often cited study in patient safety. They estimated that 44,000 to 98,000 people per year “die in hospitals each year as a result of medical errors that could have been prevented.” (IOM, 1999)

To Err“In 2010, the Office of Inspector General for the Department of Health and Human Services said that bad hospital care contributed to the deaths of 180,000 patients in Medicare alone in a given year.” (OIG, 2010)

“A recent study in the Journal of Patient Safety estimates that 210,000 to 440,000 people suffer harm during their hospital stay that contributes to their death.” (Allen, 2013)

I understand that these numbers are contentious. None of these reports has a perfect study to back up their numbers. Each, however, was done by reputable agencies using reasonable assumptions and estimations. It is likely that roughly a quarter of a million people a year, (give or take) die in hospitals in our country from mistakes.

Author running fast and low in Wales

Author running fast and low in Wales

That places medical errors as the third leading cause of death in America. Essentially they die from the medical equivalent of aircrew error.

When I made a deadly mistake in the jet my own pink butt was going to smack into the rocks. When I make a mistake in the hospital, it is my patient, not me who may die. I wonder if patient mishaps, like flight mishaps, are still 80% provider error? I wonder if removing the need for self-preservation makes it possible that the percentage might be even higher?

Works Cited

Allen, M. (2013, Sep 20). How Many Die From Medical Mistakes In U.S. Hospitals? Retrieved Sep 13, 2015, from NPR:

AOPA. (2015). 24TH JOSEPH T. NALL REPORT General Aviation Accidents in 2012. (B. K. al., Editor, & 2. AOPA Foundation, Producer) Retrieved Sep 19, 2015, from AOPA AIR SAFETY INSTITUTE:

FAA. (2009). Risk Management Handbook. (Government Printing Office) Retrieved Sep 13, 2015, from U.S. Department of Transportation: Federal Aviation Adminisistration:

IOM. (1999, Nov). To Err is Human: Shaping the Future for Health. (N. A. Press, Producer) Retrieved Sep 13, 2015, from Institute of Medicine:



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