Many of us have difficulty performing job duties or other important tasks while distracted. Employees who are distracted by aside conversations or other stimuli tend to exhibit a decrease in productivity and an increase in mistakes and errors. A new study shows that surgeons are no different and that, when distracted, the likelihood of surgical errors occurring greatly increases.
In continuation of our topic last week on common medical mistakes; an anesthesiologist and critical care physician at Johns Hopkins recently said that medical mistakes are likely the 'third leading cause of death' in this country. These mistakes are largely avoidable and there are a number of strategies medical facilities can adopt to help doctors and nurses avoid these mistakes.
Every now and then the media reports on a shocking medical mistake that really makes you wonder. When we put our trust in a doctor to make us feel better by fighting a deadly disease such as cancer or some other life-threatening medical condition, we want to know we are in good hands. But according to a recent report from an internist at Johns Hopkins Hospital, mistakes are happening every day and in every hospital across the country, including those in New York City. In fact, medical mistakes or errors result in the deaths of more than 250,000 patients every year in the United States, and millions more are injured.
New York patients expect that when they are treated by a physician they will not be further harmed. Unfortunately, all too often patients are harmed after putting their trust in doctors and receiving negligent medical care. If a negligent doctor makes an avoidable and major mistake, such as a surgical error, the consequences can lead to a lifetime of pain and suffering.
Incredible stories of botched surgeries and doctor leaving sponges in patients have permeated our culture to the point that they are almost urban legend. However, just when we think we have heard it all, something so unimaginable occurs that it makes New Yorkers reevaluate the trust they place in doctors and hospitals.
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.