Imagine you made a wrong turn on the highway or submitted incorrect answers on an examination. While those are common mistakes, they usually aren’t life-threatening. On the other hand, an error made in the context of a prescribed medical treatment or procedure could have dire consequences. In this regard, I offer the findings of two reports that summarize the current state of the American health care system.
KEY POINTSMichael J. Saks and Stephan Landsman, “Use systems redesign and the law to prevent medical errors and accidents,” Stat News, Aug 4, 2021.
• Death by medical error or accident is the nation’s leading cause of accidental death, exceeding all other causes of accidental death combined.
• Injury or illness caused by the healer is called iatrogenic harm. It’s so widespread, so frequent, so massive, and so continuous that it rarely makes headlines.
• The causes of harm vary widely: slips of the scalpel, lapses like mixing up lab results, faulty decision-making, inadequate training, evasion of known safety practices, miscommunication, equipment failures, and many more.
KEY POINTSRay Sipherd, special to CNBC.com, “The third-leading cause of death in US most doctors don’t want you to know about,” Feb 22, 2018.
• A recent Johns Hopkins study claims more than 250,000 people in the U.S. die every year from medical errors.
• Other reports claim the numbers to be as high as 440,000.
• Medical errors are the third-leading cause of death after heart disease and cancer.
• Advocates are fighting back, pushing for greater legislation for patient safety.