Are Doctors Still Killing Us?


| 3 Comments
After the several lectures Andrew gave about the mistakes doctor made killing people, I was left wondering if they are still making mistakes. Is there another commonly used medicine that does more harm than good? Are critical mistakes still be made? Will one of our commonplace medical treatments become as infamous as bloodletting? 
Though I couldn't find credible reports on wrongful treatment methods as doctors will not admit they are wrong until they have to, the fact that they are still killing people is illustrated by statistics. According to a July article in the New York Times, accounted deaths due to medical mistakes is estimated to be around 200,000 Americans every year. This number only accounts for recognized mistakes, it does not take into account the number of people that are being killed by potentially dangerous treatments and drugs. US News reported that according to a 2010 government investigation, besides those who have died by medical mistakes, 134,00 people suffer adverse effects from medical mistakes every single month. While it remains difficult to pinpoint the problem, the numbers are clear, mistakes are happening. 
mederrors.jpg
Further complicating the issue, mistakes will more than likely continue to happen because doctors are not inclined to admit to their mistakes. Desiring to maintain their careers and their reputations, many doctors would rather deny a mistake rather than acknowledge it. A 2008 article in the New York Times about a serious case of medical malpractice reported that many malpractice lawyers actually tell their clients to "deny and defend." 
Hoping to improve the standards of his profession, Dr. Marty Makary wrote an editorial for the Wall Street Journal exposing the mistakes of modern medicine.  He wrote that he has seen up to 40 mistakes being made a week and claimed that 20-30% of medications and treatments administered were unnecessary. Makary sums up his opinion by introducing his readers to "Dr. Hodad." According to Makary one of the most prominent surgeons he ever worked with was no better than his nickname, "Hodad", which stood for "Hands of Death and Destruction." 
I'm not trying to say that doctors are out to get us or that all medicine is dangerous, I just think that the medical field needs to experience some sort of reformation.  Although it is unintentional, people are clearly being harmed or even killed by medical mistakes. What do you guys think? What is causing doctors to make so many mistakes? Are they so caught up in wanting to help people that they don't realize they are doing the opposite? Are future historians and scientific theorists going to look back on this time period as yet another era of medical malpractice? 

Sources: 

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/01/opinion/more-treatment-more-mistakes.html

http://health.usnews.com/health-news/articles/2012/08/28/medical-errors-harm-huge-number-of-patients

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/18/us/18apology.html?pagewanted=all

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390444620104578008263334441352.html

3 Comments

I think it's over dramatic to keep pressing on the issue of malpractices over medical community.My mom is a physician,but this is not the reason for me to defend doctor's repute.We have the right to sigh over the accidents which doctors made during patients' treatment,but the sort of "reformation",to my point of view,would drive nowhere.Given the duty of doctors is to save patients,it is against the basic morals for doctors to deliberately harm patients.As Andrew said in class,doctors always want to make patients feel better.Therefore,on this ground,mistakes made not to be taken as wrongdoings in the whole community.We do not lack institutions that standardize and supervise the clinical practices of doctors across the country,the most notable one being FDA.Though we may look at those accidents indignantly,there is really not much space for us to blame the "whole",because few does it on purpose.

First of all. I apologize if this blog came on a little to strong. I was not trying to make an attack on doctors in general, I was just noting a problem. Additionally, although malpractice and deliberately harming patients plays a part in this issue, it was not the focus of this blog. The blog was meant to illustrate that there are clearly medical practices still in place that are harming patients rather than helping them. Andrew did say that doctors want to help and make people feel better. I actually think this is part of the problem. Doctors want to help so badly that sometimes they may give treatment when it is unnecessary which could result in the patient actually being harmed instead of helped. Also, I don't believe that this is a problem present in the entire medical community, there many excellent doctors. I just think that the entire medical community needs to address the problem in order to stop it. Many doctors would even agree with me. Choose Wisely is a group of 375,000 surgeons who are trying to pass initiatives to stop unnecessary treatments and get patients to question the treatments they are receiving. In my opinion, the medical field is far from being corrupt and evil, it just needs a little reforming.
Here's a link to an Time article on Choose Wisely: http://healthland.time.com/2012/04/05/physicians-groups-call-for-fewer-tests-for-patients/

I think you have a point. We can't say all doctors are bad. They all have good intentions but based on personal experience I lack faith in them sometimes. Both my grandfathers died in the same hospital. One died when I was three and one died when I was seventeen. My family experienced the same issues with both cases. The doctors wouldn't listen. When my first grandfather got sick my mom begged and pleaded with them to check for cancer but 15 years ago cancer wasn't as common as it is today. After exhausting all options and still not figuring it out they finally checked for cancer and it turned out he had three different kinds and by this time it was too late. Tumors had spread up and down his spine and throughout his body and there was nothing they could do. My other grandfather was on medication for a rare eye disease. His medication was weakening his immune system so he ended up in the hospital with several illnesses. When they took him off the medication, he became well enough to go home and he was improving greatly. They then allowed him to keep taking the medicaiton and eventually his immune system just shut down along with the rest of his body. I would have much rather have had him lose his sight than his life, but they kept prescribing him the medication. I'm not at all saying doctors are bad or evil but they're also not perfect and they're human and everyone makes mistakes. It's just a lot more serious for a doctor to make a mistake than a regular person so people don't take it as lightly.

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