“May be.” But they’re not. The 3rd leading cause of death is accidents (unintentional injuries).
From Dr Gorski at Science Based Medicine (and he’s right):
I say this at the beginning of nearly every post that I write on this topic, but it bears repeating. It is an unquestioned belief among believers in alternative medicine and even just among many people who do not trust conventional medicine that conventional medicine kills. Not only does exaggerating the number of people who die due to medical complications or errors fit in with the world view of people like Gary Null and Joe Mercola, but it’s good for business. After all, if conventional medicine is as dangerous as claimed, then the quackery peddled by the likes of Adams and Mercola starts looking better in comparison. Unfortunately, there are a number of academics more than willing to provide quacks with inflated estimates of deaths due to medical error. The most famous of these is Dr. Martin Makary of Johns Hopkins University, who published a review (not an original study, as those citing his estimates like to claim) estimating that the number of preventable deaths due to medical error is between 250,000 and 400,000 a year, thus cementing the common (and false) trope that “medical error is the third leading cause of death in the US” into the public consciousness and thereby doing untold damage to public confidence in medicine. As I pointed out at the time, if this estimate were correct, it would mean that between 35% and 56% of all in-hospital deaths are due to medical error and that medical error causes between 10% and 15% of all deaths in the US. The innumeracy that is required to believe such estimates beggars the imagination.
Steve Parker, M.D.
PS: Minimize your risk of iatrogenic death by getting and staying as healthy as possible. Let me help.