I recently read an article entitled “Deadly Mistakes that Plague Hospitals” by William Campbell Douglass II, M.D. According to the article, there are 400,000 preventable drug-related injuries every year and there is a 1-in-30 chance that your prescription will be filled out wrong. A lot of these are blamed on poor handwriting scrawled out onto prescriptions. Another article I have read, “Dead by Mistake” reports that medical errors cause about 200,000 preventable deaths every year in the United States, which includes many Syracuse area medical malpractice deaths each year. That’s more than the deaths from diabetes, Alzheimer’s, the flu, and pneumonia all combined!.
I am convinced that one reason for these amazing statistics is medical arrogance. Humble people learn from their mistakes. Arrogant people never learn from their mistakes because they don’t believe they can make mistakes. I am not saying that all doctors are arrogant, but the American medical establishment, which seems to have a personality of its own, is arrogant.
The medical establishment does not sufficiently castigate and weed out bad doctors. Instead, it protects them. When a doctor makes a consequential mistake in a hospital, a small group of other doctors conducts a “peer review” of his or her actions. But if wrong-doing or negligence is found, the peer review group usually meets out a mere wrist-slapping rather than consequential penalties. To add insult to injury, the complaints and investigation records are, unlike police and other such records, kept sealed and confidential.
The truth is there is only one force in our society that weeds out bad doctors; lawsuits. Since doctors won’t adequately police themselves, we lawyers have to police them for all of us. The bad doctors, the ones that are successfully sued time after time, eventually cannot find any affordable medical malpractice insurance. To find out more about medical malpractice lawsuits, visit our website
Maybe it is too much to ask that doctors police their own. Metaphors regarding foxes and henhouses come to mind. But for Christ’s sake, doctors should stop whining, and screaming, about medical malpractice lawsuits, which provide the only effective policing of medical doctors in the United States.