Friday, March 17, 2006

The Thing That Speaks For Itself

Both of my readers have suggested that I should try and update my blog more frequently. You've asked for it - please note that all negative comments will be deleted.

Quoting Frank Vertosick again, for inspiration:

"Operating on the wrong patient or doing the wrong side of the body makes for a very bad day...It means a malpractice case in which the error is so obvious that even a non-expert can see that a fuckup has occurred. A patient falls off the OR table. You cut off the left leg when it's the right one that's gangrenous....A patient bursts into flames during defibrillation....[it's] checkbook time. Just write in a string of zeroes."

When you board a commercial airliner, you have about a 1 in 8,000,000 chance of dying in a crash. When you enter a hospital (as a patient), you have about a 1 in 200 chance of dying due to an adverse event, out of which 50% are medical errors deemed easily preventable. You can take comfort in the fact that staying in the hospital is still considered safer than parachute jumping per hour of exposure.

Things could be worse. Consider the tragic case of Jenny:

"Four-month-old Jenny was hit by a car in August 2002. As a California-based malpractice attorney tells it, Jenny's doctor put a cast on her broken leg, assuring her family he had X-rayed the fracture first to make sure everything was in the right place. But after six weeks, a follow-up X-ray brought some ugly revelations: no fusion between the bones, a developing infection -- and the doctor's admission that he'd never actually taken that first X-ray. After getting second and third opinions, Jenny's family decided on amputation. Her condition, however, continued to deteriorate, and she was euthanized."

An attorney with a malpractice law firm in Portland, Oregon, comments on the risks of medical error:

"You do a surgery and there are always going to be risks, but if you have to get your leg amputated and they cut off the wrong leg, that's below the standard of care"

-The Washington Post, Sunday, September 26, 2004 (adapted)

Jenny was a light-brown pit bull mix by the way.