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Doctor's crusade against hospital errors

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I just read an article on CBS news regarding hospital safety and about a brave Doctor Berwick who runs the Institute for Healthcare Improvement. http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/02/06/eveningnews/main2440767.shtml

Per the article, he is essentially trying to make hospitals safer for patients. In this article, Berwick estimates that for every 100 patients admitted to hospitals, there are 40 to 50 incidents in which patients are harmed — ranging from bruises and bed sores to much more life-threatening situations. “Between 44,000 and 98,000 Americans die in hospitals each year, killed by their care, not by their disease,” Berwick says.

He then goes on to say that “my e-mail is full of the most poignant stories that are surfacing from families, loved ones, patients themselves, saying this happened to me, why did it happen? It didn’t need to happen.” Then he gives a couple of brief examples of the gross negligence that can occur at hospitals. “Stories like 18-month-old Josie King who came to the hospital to be treated for burns and died from dehydration. And 27-year-old Joshua Nahum, who came in with broken bones and died from an infection.”

I think this article is indicative that Doctors and insurance companies are more concerned about gaining a form of immunity through tort reform legislation as currently proposed now in Oklahoma as about eliminating medical errors and possibly costing themselves, patients, and insurance companies increased costs through harming their patients.

As a side note, you see I gave numbers from the article on the amount killed by hospital care each year, I read in a study sometime the past year that only about 30% of these incidents ever find an attorney due to hospital cover-up or simply the patient’s family not knowing what to do. Maybe instead of tort reform we doctors, hospitals and the health insurance industry should clean up their own house before looking for dirty laundry in someone else.