Everyone knows the headlines, another innocent person killed, harmed, or nearly injured as a result of what appears to be negligent healthcare. A patient looks ill, pale, sweating, in great amounts of pain and is quietly bleeding internally while doctor after doctor walks by writing it off as an exaggeration. A nurse proclaims that a mistake was made during surgery and instead of being applauded she is slaughtered in front of her peers for questioning authority. I can go on and on. There are too many stories to share, all of them sad, none of them meaningless. Sometimes people get in trouble, other times it gets brushed under the rug and only in rare cases does the mistake go onto to change hospital policy. Since 1999, report after report have implicated medical error as a serious cause of death and injury. A lot has changed since then, and we know what works to prevent mistakes and we know why they happen. Many hospital systems across the nation even know what the best practices are to prevent people getting hurt by the places they go to for help.
So when I hear about a medical error hurting a patient I’m not angry because it happened, I’m angry because we are in a system which refuses to change and learn from its errors. I’m angry because we know that the culture of trying to hide mistakes, shaming people for being wrong and being mean to each other only makes the problem worse. We know better and still some providers are recalcitrant. I’m angry because I’m realizing that identified the problem and even several solutions a long time ago but it is the culture of medicine which is stopping us from moving forward.