It is certainly one of the medical industry’s central frustrations that preventable medical errors recur in hospitals nationally, including in New Jersey.
Calling it “a well-known problem, but one that can be prevented,” an official with the Joint Commission -- a nonprofit entity that accredits more than 20,000 health care organizations across the country -- recently put the spotlight on so-called “unintended retention of foreign objects.”
We last reported on robotic surgery in the United States in a September 5, 2013, blog post. We noted therein a related comment from Martin A. Makary, a noted doctor and medical commentator. In discussing the scope and dimensions of surgical error in connection with robot-assisted surgery, Makary said, “We still don’t really know what the true answer is.”
Last year, the Department of Veterans Affairs paid out $91.7 million in medical malpractice claims -- the most in at least 12 years, according to the Government Accountability Office. That represented more than 1,500 malpractice claims against VA providers, which actually represented a leveling-off after a 33-percent increase between 2005 and 2010.
"We still don't really know what the true answer is," says Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine surgical professor Martin A. Makary.
Few consumers and hospital patients in New Jersey or elsewhere across the country would credit the medical industry with a fool-proof safety standard and performance record. Most people know -- anecdotally, through diverse media reports and, perhaps, from their own personal experience -- that medical mistakes occur in hospitals, and with regularity.
Some industries are comparatively high-tech, and there is certainly no disputing that the medical industry is among the most technologically oriented of all work realms. Hospitals in New Jersey and all other states across the country employ ultra-sophisticated machinery and diagnostic tools that are as carefully crafted and precise as anything existing in the aeronautics industry, and that technology is constantly evolving.
It wasn’t all that long ago that many voices within the medical industry were lamenting what was construed as the unduly long hours spent by beginning surgical resident on duty. The specific complaint was that sleep-lacking doctors were roaming hospitals across the country like zombies and performing operations while nearly blacking out on their feet.
Here's a business model that would certainly seem to reward laxity and discourage innovation geared toward a higher level of accuracy and efficiency: Reward mistakes.
The push across the medical industry in recent years that has focused upon supplanting paper records with electronic health records (EHRs), with New Jersey providers being no exception, has often been touted as revolutionary.