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New Documentary Addresses Deadly Medical Errors

Documentary Film on Medical Malpractice and Negligence Seeks to Reduce Patient Death Rates

Can public awareness about the serious harms of medical errors result in a decline in patient death rates? According to an article in Medpage Today, a new documentary film, To Err Is Human, will be released across the country this fall. The film attempts to “help shift the conversation on reducing deadly errors in medicine” by “highlighting the obstacles, consequences, and attempts to address the myriad factors on both the institutional and individual level responsible for errors in medicine.”

Mike Eisenberg, the director of the film, called it “a massive topic to address.” Eisenberg’s family has a history of addressing medical mistakes in the healthcare setting. His father was among the first directors of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) and engaged in early research on healthcare practices. Eisenberg takes the title of the documentary from a 1999 report from the Institute of Medicine on medical error rates in the United States, which has become a landmark study.

The documentary attempts to address some of the reasons that the public does not understand the extent of medical malpractice and negligence injuries in the U.S. One of those reasons is that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not allow a death certificate to list “medical error” or “medical mistake” as a cause of death. Instead, death certificates can only report on whether a person has died from a disease or an accident. To ensure that the public learns more about medical misconduct, we need to talk about them more openly. The film highlights how medical professionals are beginning to do that.

According to Marna P. Borgstrom, the CEO of Yale New Haven Health System, although patients still file medical malpractice suits after learning about a preventable medical error, healthcare organizations and the individual doctors within them have begun to tell patients about medical mistakes that occurred during treatment, surgery, or another procedure, acknowledging that it is “the right thing to do.” As Bergstrom explains, “now, whenever there is an error made, whether or not there is an identifiable harm to the patient, we encourage the responsible clinicians to talk with the patients about that.”

Learn More About Medical Misconduct and Errors

What are some of the most common medical errors that have changed the way we think about medical malpractice and medical mistakes? An article in Medscape lists the following areas in which many preventable errors take place:

  • Trauma care;
  • Anesthesia monitoring;
  • Fetal heart monitoring;
  • Wrong-site amputation or surgery;
  • Sponge counts;
  • Fatal drug allergies;
  • Potassium errors;
  • Bedsores or pressure ulcers; and
  • Lifting techniques for patients.

Many medical mistakes are preventable. If you or a loved one recently suffered an injury because of medical misconduct you should speak with a medical malpractice lawyer to learn more about filing a claim for compensation.

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