Triangle of Healthcare

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There are a record number of more accidents in medicine that you may realize. After a 1999 report by the Institute of Medicine noted that the number of medical-error deaths equaled the death toll from three jumbo jet crashes. This eventually caused a patient safety movement to take off that included: bringing new rules and procedures designed to minimize mistakes—and the injuries and deaths they caused. One of the most common in current times has been wrong-site surgeries. This occurs when an operation is performed on a healthy organ, appendage, or tissue. These wrong-site surgeries are estimated to happen at least 40 times each week. At least half of the medical errors that occur can be prevented. That was the message of Dr. Robert M. Wachter, a national leader in patient safety, when he spoke before the third-annual Lifespan Patient Safety Symposium in early April. Dr. Wachter’s audience was listening: Doctors at Lifespan’s Rhode Island Hospital in Providence had performed five wrong-site surgeries within the last three years, creating needless pain, grief—and medical malpractice claims. The latest wrong-site error, an operation on a perfectly healthy finger, occurred even after Lifespan had instituted new protocols to prevent such a mistake. That’s really the key point: Rules can be changed easily, but changing behavior can be far more difficult and normally only happens once you get a good medical malpractice lawyer. The mistakes shouldn’t happen to begin with. But when the medical system fails a patient, it’s often up to the legal profession to provide incentive, justice—and recovery. An example was given of Lois Poole, a 65-year-old Florida woman. In October 2005, Lois went to see her primary care physician, complaining of acute abdominal pain in her right upper quadrant. Her doctor ordered an ultrasound, which was interpreted by a radiologist, Dr. Tomas Korensky, as showing a diseased gallbladder. Lois was then sent for gallbladder...
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