Tragically, a mother of three children died recently in a New York hospital while trying to provide a life-saving kidney donation for her younger brother. The 41-year-old woman succumbed to excess bleeding after a surgeon cut her aorta, a major blood vessel, on the operating table during the transplant operation.
Confession, the saying goes, is good for the soul. But it's not very often that a practicing surgeon publishes an account detailing operating room mishaps and miscommunications - the types of things that cause surgical errors.
For years, thoughtful people within the medical profession have advocated for the use of checklists to prevent surgical errors. Passionate advocates for greater use of checklists include Atul Gawande, the Boston surgeon and New Yorker contributor, and Dr. Peter Pronovost of Johns Hopkins.
During the health care debate there was a lot of discussion about the pros and cons of aggressive health care. Some people believe that preventative care is the most effective - and cost-efficient - way to treat patients, and that aggressive treatment can do more harm than good.