Sanjay Gupta, the associate chief of neurosurgery at Grady Memorial Hospital and the chief medical correspondent for CNN writing for the NYTimes, "More Treatment, More Mistakes," chides everyone: doctors, hospitals, lawyers and the public for the current healthcare practices that do more to protect the practitioner than prevent harm to the patient. Excerpt:
"According to a 1999 report by the Institute of Medicine, as many as 98,000 Americans were dying every year because of medical mistakes. Today, exact figures are hard to come by because states don’t abide by the same reporting guidelines, and few cases gain as much attention as that of Rory Staunton, the 12-year-old boy who died of septic shock this spring after being sent home from a New York hospital. But a reasonable estimate is that medical mistakes now kill around 200,000 Americans every year. That would make them one of the leading causes of death in the United States. Why have these mistakes been so hard to prevent?"
Defensive medicine: Doctors order more medically unnecessary tests, procedures and treatments to serve as a shield against a potential lawsuit.
Hospitals fail to provide guidance and direction for healthcare staff to confront doctors making mistakes.
Patients want it all because more seems to be better - at least in this country of everything largess.
How can we be safer?
Beginning in medical school, students must be taught that doctors are as human as the rest of us. When you make a mistake you admit the mistake, report the mistake, learn from the mistake, and carry on.
Hospitals must enforce legitimate morbidity and mortality meetings so doctors can earn from each other to improve the care they give, not hide from it.
Nurses must be invited to help write policies and procedures designed to alert the hospital and medical staff when a doctor has made a mistake.
Lawyers have an obligation to file legitimate lawsuits on behalf of injured plaintiffs.
Patients must ask questions about is being done and the reasons for it so they can accept or decline the test, procedure or treatment.
The same goes for medications being administered. Click here to read what you can do to prevent a medication error.
And everyone - patients, family members, hospital caregivers - must wash their hands, between every patient, between every test, between every procedure. Click here to read what you can do to decrease the risk of acquiring an infection in a hospital.
"In 1979, Stephen Bergman, under the pen name Dr. Samuel Shem, published rules for hospitals in his caustically humorous novel, “The House of God.” Rule No. 13 reads: “The delivery of medical care is to do as much nothing as possible.”"
The charge to "First, do no harm" can be shared by all of us.