Many things are often talked about as leading causes of injury and death in the United States, from car accidents to cancer. However, according to one doctor, the third leading cause of death is often overlooked, due to the way statistics are collected. That high-ranking cause, he claims, is medical error.
At a time when prescription drug abuse is an epidemic in New Jersey and throughout the U.S., one recent criminal case on the other side of the country has made history. A former Southern California doctor is the first physician in that state ever to face a murder charge for prescribing drugs to patients.
If you've watched any hospital-based television shows in recent years, you've seen the kind of long hours that medical residents put in. While there is a limit on the hours per week they can work, that limit is 80 hours. Couple those long hours with the stress of dealing with life-and-death situations in a difficult and competitive learning environment, and it shouldn't be surprising that physicians in training suffer a much higher rate of depression than the average person.
It is a concept not usually considered in typical suicide cases—whether a doctor's error or malpractice played a role in the deceased's actions. New Jersey families who have suffered the loss of a loved one by his or her own hand face a particularly rough road to healing. Often, they look for someone to blame for the tragedy that has taken over their lives. In most cases, this search remains fruitless, but a recent report illustrates how it might be possible for a doctor's action or inaction to contribute to suicide.
When people hear the term "malpractice," most automatically envision grave injuries or even death. However, a shocking story shows that people can be harmed without experiencing bodily injury. The story centers on a male patient who inadvertently recorded the events that transpired during his colonoscopy procedure. The results are both shocking and a gross display of lack of professionalism.
For years, influential figures in medicine, politics and insurance have worked to institute "tort reform" laws. They allege that America is too litigious, especially when it comes to things like medical malpractice. These so-called reforms promised to rein in the costs of healthcare by making it harder for patients to sue physicians/hospitals and by putting caps on damage awards.
In our last post, we discussed the idea that the majority of medical errors that harm patients are caused by miscommunication. Listening is a vitally important skill, yet one that doctors often fail to utilize.
Whether we realize it or not, most of our meaningful interactions with others center on relationships. Work is more enjoyable and usually more productive if you like your colleagues. You are more likely to keep hiring an auto mechanic who has proven himself to be honest and reliable.
Drug and alcohol addiction is a significant problem in the United States. Nearly anyone with a family history of addiction knows just how destructive alcohol and drugs can be. They also understand how difficult it is for the addicted person to seek help, to accept help and to recover.
Few would dispute the fact that medicine is among the most complex professions one can enter into. We trust and respect doctors not just for the important work that they do, but also for the years of training and study that it took to learn their craft.