A doctor can be as meticulous as humanly possible and still make a mistake. There are over 200,000 preventable deaths a year in the US that are caused by errors made by healthcare professionals per Thomas Sharon in his book, “With Liberty and Coverage for All“. Not every mistake leads to death.
Take the scenario of a nurse not washing her hands before giving a patient an IV. Ok let’s say this is the only mistake, she can still put some gloves on and very likely there won’t be a problem. If however she does neither and has some bacteria on her hands, the patient is at risk of a blood borne pathogen. Likely the patient will not even know the risk they are in. This is a medical mistake. They happen more than we would like to admit.
There are checklists that are in place with the specific intent to minimize the risk of mistakes. For example, before every surgery an inventory is taken of all of the equipment used. Before closing the patient up an inventory is taken as well. If anything is missing, the patient cannot be closed up until every piece of surgical equipment is accounted for. This means every sponge, every clamp, everything.
This could help prevent “never events”. Currently these occur over 4,000 times a year and are COMPLETELY preventable. A 2011 study published in the journal Health Affairs showed that medical errors cost the U.S. about $17.1 billion in Medicare payments in one year alone. Mistakes don’t just hurt one patient, they damage the entire system.
Think about your job. It is very likely you can remember a mistake that you made that didn’t really have any consequences, and it is also very likely that you can recall a mistake that had a pretty severe impact. Doctors are the same way. Most mistakes go unnoticed, most aren’t fatal, but some are.
I’m sure we all remember the recent death of Jennifer Morbelli getting a late term abortion by well known abortion doctor to terminate her 33-week pregnancy after discovering her unborn child had developed fetal abnormalities. This was not the first patient to die for LeRoy Carhart, when performing a late term abortion.
With our judicial system, legal fees, and up to 30% of the bottom line going to the hospital and administration fees doctors are getting paid less. In order to make up for this gap many doctors take on more patients in order to maintain their current standard of living. This gives them even less time to deal with the decisions they have to make. In our modern medical community mistakes have never been higher, despite stricter checklists and moderated routines.