When you read this, you may want to be sitting down – preventable medical errors kill enough people to fill four jumbo jets a week. Yes, you read that correctly. Four jumbo jets worth of innocent victims who lost their lives due to medical mistakes that could have been prevented with due care.
The shocking statistics do not end there. Surgeons operate on the wrong body part as often as 40 times a week. About 25 percent of all hospitalized patients will suffer a harm due to a preventable medical error of some kind.
Get this – if medical errors were a disease, they would be the sixth leading cause of death in America, according to the Wall Street Journal.
These statistics are surprising, disturbing, and a clarion call for dramatic reforms. I wish people who are so gung ho about tort reform would allocate a portion of their passion to advocating for change in medical care processes so we can avoid deadly preventable errors.
The Wall Street Journal article which put a spotlight on this issue mentioned some promising ideas such as using online dashboards that would show a hospital’s annual volume for each type of surgery and patient scores, engendering a culture of putting safety first in the ER and operating room, and using digital note software like Open Notes.
Unfortunately, many doctors and surgeons stick to routines and traditions that may feel comfortable, but could be contributing to the dangerous culture where preventable errors are more likely to occur. All of us need to come together to demand change in the hospitals so we can reduce the startlingly high percentage of avoidable deadly medical mistakes.