The recent highly publicized study reporting medical negligence as the third leading cause of death in the United States has stimulated much new commentary on the medical care crisis in the country. Medical providers have been seeking appropriate responses, and patients are talking more freely about their unreported horror stories of medical negligence. The report, issued by doctors at one of the country’s finest medical schools, says in effect that over 700 people are dying from medical malpractice in the country each day, with California having its own fair share of that number.
The surgeon who chaired the research indicated bluntly that people are dying mostly from poor medical care rather than from the disease or condition for which they sought care. The range of problems covers a wide variety of negligent errors committed by hospitals, doctors and medical technicians. Just a few of the problems involve misdiagnosis, failure to diagnose, botched birth deliveries, surgical errors, removal of the wrong limbs or body parts and even leaving surgical instruments inside the patient’s body.
The problem includes not only bad doctors but also communications errors between different departments within the medical care system. The revelations should put a glitch in the efforts of medical groups to increase the restrictions on the right of innocent victims to recover damages for their losses. In fact, it may be argued that the onus is now on the medical providers to give answers on how the quality of medical care will be improved.
Some early responses in California and other states were positive in that some hospitals quickly indicated attempts to eradicate the repetitive mistakes that keep re-occurring. In many of those instances, the situation could be greatly improved by introducing tight protocols to control procedural steps and communications gaps. Another deep concern is that the death numbers are out shadowed by much higher numbers of patients who suffer serious medical injuries from acts of medical malpractice each year. It is now time for medical providers to show their sincerity in coming together to reduce these frightening statistics.
Source: The Washington Post, “Researchers: Medical errors now third leading cause of death in United States“, Ariana Eunjung Cha, May 3, 2016