Doctors Confess Their Fatal Mistakes

Doctors, nurses, and pharmacists hold your life in their hands. Here, their shocking stories of what can go wrong—and what has to improve to keep us safe.

By Joe Kita from Reader's Digest | October 2010

Patient Safety: 5 Fresh Ideas

Offer a “guarantee.” Pennsylvania’s Geisinger Health System offers a 90-day warranty for coronary-artery-bypass grafts and other treatments. Patients pay a flat fee up front; if an avoidable complication develops within three months of a procedure, patients are not billed for any required medical care. Instituted in 2006, Geisinger’s warranties create a powerful incentive to do things right the first time—and have reduced the 30-day readmission rate by 44 percent.

Keep an eye on things. In industry, a number of companies use video cameras, motion sensors, and other devices to monitor operations. Now some medical centers are testing hospital video auditing to ensure workers wash their hands before entering and leaving a patient’s room. Performance scores are posted on an electronic “scoreboard.” Early results show the technology substantially boosts hand-washing.

Scan it. One study showed that about 20 percent of medication doses given to hospital patients involve some sort of mistake. So nurses at Parkview Medical Center in Pueblo, Colorado, carry small bar-code scanners that read patient wristbands and wirelessly link to the pharmacy and doctor records to ensure that the right medication is given at the right time and in the right dose. The error rate has dropped by more than half.

Take a walk. Senior executives at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston conduct weekly “WalkRounds” in which the president, CEO, or chief medical or nursing officers emphasize safety and listen as staffers discuss concerns. This high-profile advocacy of patient-safety is not only economical but has been shown to change behavior.

Practice, practice, practice. The Banner Simulation Medical Center in Mesa, Arizona, uses computerized mannequins to re-create emergency, surgical, and everyday-care scenarios for medical professionals-in-training. Though the program started less than a year ago, improvements in patient care are already being seen, a spokesperson says.

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  • Your Comments

    • Happy Place

      I like a National Healthcare System

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Rod-Venger/747469101 Rod Venger

      These doctors are horrible and their confessions do not absolve them of anything. I pity the pharmacist that took the fall or his tech’s error, but he was the supervisor…as for the nurse, God protect us from nurse-managers. No person can be intimidated or threatened unless they allow themselves to be. Nurses are like wolves, pack animals looking to protect each other from outside forces. The alpha nurse, the manager, like all others before her, used to be just a normal, hard working nurse. Once tapped for management, they lose all their humanity, working not for the good of the patient but for the good of the system. No surprise that this one lines up with a union. The pack can never be wrong nor accused of being wrong for they have all the fangs. That’s convenient when it comes to laying blame for someone’s untimely death.

    • Change is slow

      While I appreciate this article, there are many flaws in the system, just mentioned a tad in this article that could have books written on them, such as the intern system…the voices say it needs to change, but those who made it through perpetuate it. Right now it is nearly impossible to change. Or that Geisner systems improperly implemented give a physician incentive to hide the source of re-admission, and that going to another facility doesn’t mean the truth will come out, as doctors protect each other as a means of protecting themselves. Its a deep rooted complex topic, and those with advocates fare better in terms of protecting themselves from mistakes, but fare worse in terms of the backlash from the medical community, not just during their immediate care but any care related or not, afterwards.

    • CTG

      Obama Care is the best thing any President has ever put in place. Try getting insurance with pre-existing conditions – it is IMPOSSIBLE! You either get totaly denied coverage or they place riders and still charge prices so high you cannot afford the coverage. You need to do your research or try walking in someone elses shoes when you cannot get medical help!

    • CTG

      Obama Care is the best thing any President has ever put in place. Try getting insurance with pre-existing conditions – it is IMPOSSIBLE! You either get totaly denied coverage or they place riders and still charge prices so high you cannot afford the coverage. You need to do your research or try walking in someone elses shoes when you cannot get medical help!

    • Davekyguy

      Wait till Obamacare cuts the Dr.s pay and starts rationing care.

      They are going to save money all right, just like they did when they stole 500 billion from Medicare.

      • Bill

        Nonsense. Pure dittohead rubbish. You’re statement are wrong and taken just as fox misrepresented the,m.

        “Obamacare” rationing healthcare? You mean like the current HMO’s do? Why do you think this country is moving towards a nationalized healthcare system? Because of the corrupt insurance providers!

        Turn off fox and raise your IQ.