Virginia: Medical Malpractice – a Lawyer’s Killing

Virginia: Medical Malpractice – a Lawyer’s Killing

On September 24, 2012, The Wall Street Journal (www.wsj.com) headlined “How to Stop Hospitals from Killing Us,” subtitled: “Medical errors kill enough people to fill four jumbo jets a week. A surgeon with five simple ways to make health care safer.” Authored by a doctor who trained as a surgeon at one of Harvard Medical School’s prestigious affiliated teaching hospitals, is a surgeon at Johns Hopkins hospital, and developed the surgical checklists adopted by the World Health Organization; the article exposes rampant medical malpractice – and doctors’ unspoken “code of silence” about it.

Dr. Makary elucidates that doctors “absorb another unspoken rule: to overlook the mistakes of our colleagues.” The undeniable national statistics of medical malpractice are scary: U.S. surgeons operate on the wrong body part 40 times per week, 25% of all hospital patients are victims of medical errors, and medical errors are the 6th leading cause of death in the U.S. (with 98,000 wrongful deaths annually)!

Dr. Makary recounts medical residents joke about, and institutions protect, charming “Dr. Hodad” – whose fictive last name is acronym for Dr. “Hands of Death and Destruction”. Hence the author advocates 5 “relatively simple – but crucial – reforms” to minimize medical malpractice: (1) Online Dashboards; (2) Safety Culture Scores; (3) Cameras; (4) Open Notes; and (5) No More Gagging.