Thursday, November 25, 2010

Patient Safety Is Not Improving in Hospitals, Study Finds

"The study, conducted from 2002 to 2007 in 10 North Carolina hospitals, found that harm to patients was common and that the number of incidents did not decrease over time. The most common problems were complications from procedures or drugs and hospital-acquired infections."
"medical mistakes caused as many as 98,000 deaths and more than one million injuries a year in the United States"
"instead of improvements, the researchers found a high rate of problems. About 18 percent of patients were harmed by medical care, some more than once, and 63.1 percent of the injuries were judged to be preventable. Most of the problems were temporary and treatable, but some were serious, and a few — 2.4 percent — caused or contributed to a patient's death, the study found."
"For the most part, the reporting of medical errors or harm to patients is voluntary, and that "vastly underestimates the frequency of errors and injuries that occur," Dr. Landrigan said."
* * *
If most injuries are preventable, then why does medical malpractice reform focus on preventing patients from suing, rather than preventing doctors from making the mistakes that cause them to be sued?
Dr. Groopman's book "How Doctors Think" makes it clear how many of these errors occur, and a primary cause is doctors who don't listen.  As we advise every patient looking for a CFS diagnosis, once you say "fatigue" the doctor is going to tune out everything else you say because he's just leapt to the conclusion you're depressed.
Of course, not saying "the F word" isn't foolproof -- I fed the doctor every symptom that proved it was not depression, and because I was a divorced middle-aged woman, he was sure it was depression.  When confronted on the incongruity, he announced that "nothing you said made sense" -- it wasn't *his* fault for making the wrong diagnosis, it was *my* fault for not telling him that I had the symptoms that supported the misdiagnosis!  Yes, a doctor who changes a correct diagnosis to an incorrect one should be sued.  It's now a matter of public record that he doesn't listen.

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