Some of the most important jobs in our country, in our society, are the ones that are related to the medical field. There are trained professionals who specialize in specific areas of our health that the everyday man is not knowledgeable in. Without these doctors, nurses, and surgeons, our health as a nation would be at risk. These medical personnel have the experience and education to deal with whatever disease or sickness that a person may contract.
As a result, people depend on these medical experts, and blindly trust whatever they say. Some people will let a doctor perform any procedure on them without being aware of the potential dangers that may occur. When an error does occur due to a botched procedure or surgery, it may not be reported. Throughout our nation, more and more medical errors are being committed, and we need a better system to help combat this. What I mean by this is if these mistakes are brought to the attention of the public, then these blunders will have a lesser chance of occurring, making America’s hospitals much safer for patients.
I completely trust my physician, the doctors at the local hospital, my dentist, and my orthopedic doctor. I have seen all of these medical experts and I have had no trouble with any of them. They have all been an enormous help to me whenever I’ve been sick, had elbows problems, or needed a check-up. I trust each one of them 100%, and will follow any advice they give me due to my positive experiences I have had with all of them. And if you were to ask most of your friends, colleagues or family members, I am sure that medical errors or abuse would not even be a thought in their minds.
However, when Americans realize how much of an issue this is, the majority of them, like me, would be shocked. For example, while I was caddying for a doctor, he told me about a surgeon at his hospital who almost killed a patient during a surgery. The surgeon did not send his patient to the surgical floor soon enough, and instead allowed him to wait. Because of this, the patient suffered internal bleeding and rupturing of organs. Fortunately, the patient survived, and this case was reported by the hospital, and they were able to address the surgeon who made the mistake.
A review of medical records by the U.S. Health Services Department’s Inspector General found that one in seven Medicare patients, around 134,000 people were harmed while under the care of a doctor or hospital. 1.5 % of Medicare beneficiaries experienced an event leading to their death while under supervision of a medical professional. These numbers are disturbing and obviously we ideally want them down to zero.
This is a serious problem in our nation, and it needs to be addressed. There are a multitude of places and services to inform us if this happens. However, the services available are not the issue. There are no complaints, no independent investigators, and that means that there is no outside accountability for providers who make these errors. Because of this, these mistakes will continue to happen.
There is a law in place that states that whenever a patient experiences harm while under medical supervision, the doctor or hospital needs to report the error immediately. However, the HHS Inspector General found that only 12% of these errors were reported. Hospitals only report 1% of the errors. Our health is at stake when these errors are not reported, because then the doctors or hospitals are not held accountable, and the mistakes are not corrected. So how do we make sure that these errors are noticed? America needs a better way of becoming aware of these errors. We need to develop methods for acquiring information on the phone and through the Internet by using questionnaires.
I believe that although questionnaires will be a good first step, this is not enough. America’s health care system needs to encourage patients to report errors to local state licensing agencies. The most effective way to change the way people think about medical mistakes is for them to hear it for themselves from their health care providers. I believe that the issue stems from the blind trust that patients have in their doctors. Although doctors go through several years of medical schooling and training, Americans need to realize that doctors are human and they will sometimes make a mistake. This shows that people do not necessarily need to start questioning authority, especially doctors, but need to be wary of what is happening around them, and the dangers that do sometimes come with things like surgery or other medical procedures.
One example of this outside the medical world is airplanes. Airplanes are very convenient and essential when it comes to travel. However, the perk of flying, like health services, does come with a little uncertainty. Occasionally, you see a pilot make a mistake, or the plane malfunction, so there is a little risk that one takes with flying. This is somewhat comparable to medical errors, but the difference is that people are more aware of plane crashes then they are with medical mistakes. I believe that when people and hospitals start reporting these mistakes, and address them, we will see these rates drop.