The Institute of Medicine (IOM) released a report in 1999 stating that 98,000 people die per year from preventable medical errors. 98,000!!!!! Where is the outrage? This is enough to fill Fenway Park 2.5 times. The average 747 has 415 seats, if we filled them with people who die from medical errors, there would be 240 jets.
Since that report in 1999 that spurred congressional hearings, legislative bills and promises of reform. How have they done? According to an estimate from the CDC it has actually gotten worse, they are estimating that 100,000 people a year still die from medical errors.
The IOM made 4 recommendations in 1999:
- Implement safe medication practices. There are 1.5 million preventable medication errors annually. A large number of these errors come in the form of similarly named drugs.
- Create accountability through transparency. This pertains to reporting medical errors so the public can be aware of them. Currently 24 states do not have any medical error reporting systems in place and most states that do are not publicizing facility specific information to the public.
- Measure the Problem. Almost impossible when the systems are not properly setup.
- Raise the standards for competency in patient safety. The IOM called for periodic tests of doctors’ and nurses’ competence and knowledge of safety practices. In the private sector this has been launched, unfortunately the results remain fragmented.
So What Can We Do About It?
Do I blame the Doctors? No way, these are great people who are working way harder than anyone realizes. There is not one single doctor out there, that I know, who would ever want to hurt a patient.
In my humble opinion the biggest problem lies with you! Yes You. You are not allowed to take anyone’s word for it when it comes to your health. It is up to you to take charge of what is being put in your body or what is being done to your body.
Stop looking at your doctor as a God and start looking at him or her as a consultant. They offer you advice and recommendations, however, at the end of the day that doctor works for you and you only. If you have a doctor that has that relationship backwards, fire him or her and find another one, there are tons of good ones. Just ask around.
When you get prescribed a drug it is up to you to make sure you get what the doctor intended for you to get. Similary named drugs are an area where there is huge amounts of errors. Be a pest, make sure that the drug name matches exactly.
Are you concerned about side effects? It is up to you to look these up. There is so much information online now, there is no excuse to not know what the side effects are for every drug you take are.
Lastly, how about taking better care of yourself so that you don’t need to see the doctor. The road to wellness is littered with good intentions, you must take a couple of little action steps. Try a couple of these things and see if you can cut down on the amount of drugs you need to take:
- Eat fresh food. Where I live there is a farm stand on every corner, try using one of them, you will be shocked at how much better fresh food tastes
- Exercise. Yes you have time. Everyone does, it is just how much priority you put on it.
- Monitor what you spend time thinking about. What you think about is closely tied into your immune system. Spend more time thinking on the positive and I promise you will notice a difference.
- Keep your spine in shape. I am a chiropractor, did you expect me to tell you something different?
This list could go on and on. The key here is do something!!If you want more help or need some advice don’t be afraid to give us a call. You can also follow me on twitter, search for drkevdc.