Where Did You Say It Hurts?

In 1999, the Institute of Medicine released a study concluding that 98,000 people in hospitals die every year from mistakes.

In 2010, the Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services declared that 180,000 Medicare patients in hospitals die annually due to medical error.

And now the Journal of Patient Safety says that the actual number could be as high as 440,000 deaths a year due to hospital error and negligence. This makes medical error the THIRD MOST COMMON CAUSE of DEATH in the U.S., ahead of everything but heart disease and cancer.

I for one believe it. My wife suffered a bacterial lung infection that induced a coma leading to hospitalization. She was supposed to recover in a germ-free environment and visitors were cautioned about coughing or the sniffles. Meanwhile, the hospital custodian entered the room for a routine clean-up and while sweeping the room stopped to sneeze all over the counter where the medications and food were prepared. Bringing this to the attention of the nurse-in-charge elicited little concern, “Oh well, that’s custodial not medical staff so they’re not under our control”, she explained.

I wonder if the germs know the difference?

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