Medical errors in the US are noted to take the lives of roughly 98,000 patients a year. Medical mistakes are alarming and seem to be on the rise.
The number of people that die in the US every year as a result of medical mistakes is higher than the number of people killed in car crashes on an annual basis. This is hardly a spectacular record to be proud of either.
Aside from death as a consequence of errors, injuries resulting from medical mistakes are even more common, and sadly, don’t get reported that often. In fact, there is a lot of carnage that seems to lie just below the surface of the medical profession that no one wants to directly address. You know it’s more than “just a problem” when the Kaiser Family Foundation actually carries out a study on medical mistakes.
The results of the study were quite interesting and raised a few eyebrows in the process. There were 1,200 adults involved as well as 800 doctors. Turns out that roughly 35% of the physicians commented that either they or members of their family had experience with medical errors. The errors were not of the benign nature either, and resulted in severe pain, long-term disabilities and death.
The very fact that doctors were the victim of other doctors and medical personnel should have awoken a few people. In fact, the Kaiser study did collect data that pointed to the medical community being unwilling to change to make a difference. This of course, left medical malpractice attorneys on the leading edge of demanding change in the medical system.
It’s interesting that taking legal action against a doctor would seem to be the only solution to get any real changes made within the system; however, this makes much more sense when put into perspective. Most physicians are relatively indifferent to regulating themselves and/or making changes to procedures to avoid mistakes. Now that’s a chilling thought in itself.
Oddly, doctors also seem resistant to trying built-in system checks, such as taking a pharmacist on rounds or cutting back the number of hours a resident has to work. This is odd because these things would make a big difference in addressing the issue of fatigue, a primary cause of medical errors.
In the meantime, the other option appears to be suing for redress of a medical error and perhaps forcing the medical community to begin to police itself.