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We’re a well-informed country. When something threatens our health or safety, we know about it, and we take steps to end the threat. Right? For example, if four full jumbo jets crashed each week — killing all the occupants — people would stop flying until the error was resolved. We wouldn’t tolerate that level of fatality.
But what if that many people were dying each week because of preventable hospital errors? Would people stop going to the hospital? Unfortunately, that’s not an option. It would be foolish not to go to the hospital when you’re sick. However, each year as many as 100,000 Americans die in hospitals from preventable mistakes. To put that number in perspective, that’s equal to four full jumbo jets crashing every week.
To be fair, health care professionals are also responsible for helping people recover from life-threatening illnesses and saving them from severe injuries. One mother thanked her medical team for saving her newborn when he was born premature and fragile. She later blamed another medical team for failing to attend to complications from a routine tonsillectomy on her 3-year-old son. Because of their alleged negligence, her son died.
The mother expressed the feelings of most people who have lost family members because of medical negligence. “What do we care about the excellence in the system?” Where was the medical excellence for them when their loved ones were killed?
In today’s society, there are 37 million people hospitalized every year, and we have little proof to suggest that the number of hospital errors is declining. In fact, a study that was released at the beginning of the year reported that 86 percent of hospital staff did not report harm done to Medicare patients.
Are hospitals doing anything to work toward reducing preventable errors? Read more in our next post to learn what they’ve already done and what shocking negligent errors continue happening daily.
Source: AARP, “Hospitals May Be the Worst Place to Stay When You’re Sick,” Katharine Greider, March 1, 2012