It was recently reported that medical errors are the third-eading cause of death in the United States after heart disease and cancer. The estimated number per year is over 400,000. This is not new information, and unfortunately, this will not be a simple problem to fix. A portion of these deaths result from health care providers lacking resources and being overextended, both contributing to making errors. Some will also result from ...

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For the last couple of days, the Twitter medical community has been discussing the latest in a long line of papers attempting to estimate the role of medical error as a cause of death. A recent entry appeared in the BMJ and was by a surgeon at Johns Hopkins, Dr. Martin Makary, who claims that 251,454 patients die from medical error every year. Makary's review extrapolated that figure from three papers ...

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Josef Stalin famously said: "One death is a tragedy; one million is a statistic." Perhaps 250,000 preventable deaths from medical errors, according to an analysis by Makary and Daniel in the BMJ, maketh a Stalin. The problem with Makary’s analysis, which also concluded that medical errors are the third leading cause of death, isn’t the method. Yes, the method is shaky. It projects medical errors ...

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I dialed the number to return the call of the nursing home. The nurse who answered the phone was relieved to hear my voice on the other line: “Dr. Mass, thank God you called back! She has been pacing since she woke up, and she refuses to take her meds. We’ve kept her away from Catherine, so they don’t get into another fistfight. But we can’t handle her here anymore. ...

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For a moment, let's forget about his unfiltered voice, bullying, flip-flops, ego, and violence-focused rhetoric. I know suspending this discussion might be interpreted as some as my supporting Donald Trump. I do not. I would rather, however, look at how Donald Trump in the White House might affect the day-to-day lives of physicians. And by this I am not referring to his support or opposition to universal health care, for I ...

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A 42-year-old patient arrived for her annual gynecologist appointment complaining of a self-detected breast lump. She had several questions about her condition and wanted to tell her doctor about a family history of breast cancer.  The doctor was in a hurry and advised her to ask the staff, but the staff was busy with other patients and told her to call them later. The patient did not call. The gynecologist ordered ...

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38 states currently have an apology act. This means that if doctors feel they owe a patient an apology, they may provide one without any ramifications, if future legal actions are taken by the patient/patient’s family. In 2006, I spent 218 days in the hospital after the healthy birth of my daughter. My chronic autoimmune disease, scleroderma, masked certain signs of preeclampsia, which went undiagnosed. This led to a massive infection ...

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In September 2010, a seasoned pediatric intensive care unit nurse administered an accidental overdose to a critically ill baby, giving ten times the amount of calcium that was prescribed. Five days later, this baby, with an already tenuous heart condition, died. The nurse recognized her mistake immediately, informed her superior, and also told the family and physicians. She was, however, escorted out of the hospital, put on administrative leave, and ...

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A Kentucky appeals court ruled that a surgeon was not responsible for a burn caused by an instrument that had been removed from an autoclave and placed on an anesthetized patient's abdomen. According to an article in Outpatient Surgery, the surgeon was not in the room when the injury occurred and only discovered it when he was about to begin the procedure. An insufflator valve had been sterilized and was ...

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For decades, many physicians have been pushing for comprehensive tort reform on the national level. Malpractice claims in the U.S. are twice those of other developed countries such as England, Canada, and Germany. Payouts in a U.S. claim can easily reach 3 million dollars or more; in Germany most claims are around $30,000 or less. A survey conducted by RAND in 2011 estimates that 99 percent of American physicians in high-risk ...

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