Everyone wants to trust that their medical care will help them; we all want to believe that the doctors and nurses entrusted with our care are infallible. That utopian view is one that is embraced by many people across the country. Nobody wants to believe that a doctor is capable of making a mistake in judgment or, in legal parlance, commit medical malpractice.
The reality is that medical mistakes continue to plague our health-care system. Medical malpractice in our country is being described as an epidemic in a prominent study that was recently released. The study was not commissioned by a politician or a lawyer; it was not performed by a social activist. Instead, doctors and hospitals are being criticized by one of the nation’s leading doctors.
A surgeon at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Dr. Martin Makary, conducted a study and reached this chilling conclusion, “It boils down to people dying from the care that they receive rather than the disease for which they are seeking care.” The study concludes that nearly 700 people die per day as a result of medical mistakes, accounting for approximately 9.5% of all deaths in the United States.
Heart disease and cancer are the only other factors that lead to people dying in the United States more often than medical mistakes. Makary and his colleagues were motivated to conduct the study to illuminate a problem that they feel hospitals and healthcare facilities are trying to bury.
In his study he challenges medical professionals to provide patients and the general public with details and statistics on people who have lost their lives due to medical mistakes. Researchers make it clear that this is not a new problem. Rather, it has been going on for decades. Some of their concern is the limited available evidence to show that the medical profession has improved and reduced the number of medical errors. They described the lack of improvement as “discouraging and alarming.” The lone area in the medical profession that seems to have improved is the likelihood that a patient will be exposed to harm in a hospital setting.
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