Each Illinois medical malpractice lawyer at our firm understands the continued need for improvements in medical safety. The most common refrain to hammer home this point is the reminder that estimates suggest that the total number of patients killed because of preventable medical errors is equivalent to two jumbo jets filled with passengers crashing everyday and killing everyone on board. If that actually occurred, you can image that the country would be up in arms about the need for increased safety protocols for the airline industry. Much less attention is focused on improving medical safety standards. Unfortunately, the Illinois medical malpractice attorneys at our firm know that instead most attention is focused on actually limited the rights of the patients hurt by the errors-ultimately providing even less accountability
Many advocates are working to change this situation and share information about the critical importance of improving safety standards at all medical institutions. For example, a recent AMED News story explained how a range of celebrity activists are trying to focus public attention on these issues. Many of the public figures were spurred in their efforts by the fact that they have been personally affected medical mistakes.
For example, film actor Dennis Quaid had the horrific experience of nearly losing his children as a result of a medication error. In 2007 the star’s wife gave birth to twins. However, when the babies were only 12 days old they developed an infection. The family rushed them to the emergency room. While there the children were mistakenly given 1,000 times the needed dose of the drug heparin. The babies were nearly killed. Investigations into the incident revealed that the mistake was rooted in the fact that packaging on the drug for 10,000 unit-strength and 10-unit strength are very similar. In addition, the hospital in question was found to fail to separate properly the two types of doses, creating a situation where the error was far more likely to occur.
This sort of infant drug overdose is unfortunately not uncommon. For example, only slightly more than a year before the Quaid children were almost killed the same mistakes occurred in Indiana. In that case six infants were given the 10,000-unit dose of heparin. Three of those babies died as a result.
All community members-not just medical malpractice lawyers-should work hard to eliminate these preventable tragedies.
One important way to help is to create a patient safety board based on the one in the aviation industry. The investigations following airline accidents are intense, and the reports of the accident “often lead to direct changes in federal regulations, airline policies and in the cockpit.” Medical errors receive far less review, meaning that they do not spur changes and similar mistakes are made again and again.
Famous pilot Capt. Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger-the pilot who landed a disabled plan on the Hudson River in 2009-has come out in support of the benefits of the aviation safety board. He noted that safety improvements are vital to improving safety long-term in any field, medicine should be no exception.
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