A recent article in the Wall Street Journal focused on “how to stop hospitals from killing us”, the author, a surgeon at John Hopkins Hospital and a frequent writer on physician accountability, and highlighted a number of troubling statistics. While the Institute of Medicine’s estimate that 98,000 deaths occur annually from medical errors in the United States is well publicized, here are some statistics that you may not have heard. Dr. Marty Makary wrote that medical mistakes kill enough people each week to fill four jumbo jets. If medical errors were a disease, they would be the sixth leading cause of death in America, ahead of Alzheimer’s and just behind accidents. Surgeons in the United States operate on the wrong body part as often as 40 times a week.

Dr. Makary asserts that the same preventable mistakes are made over and over again, because an unspoken rule in American hospitals is that the mistakes of colleagues should be overlooked. He argues that this disturbing closed-door culture of American medicine should be replaced with greater transparency in the health care system, which is more achievable than ever because of the advent of new technology. He believes that public reporting of medical care statistics will give consumers information upon which to base their healthcare choices, which will serve as a stimulus for higher-quality care. A recent survey showed that 60% of New Yorkers look up a restaurant’s performance rating before going there, but that same sort of information is not available when selecting a care provider or institution. Changes such as those suggested by Dr. Makary do not happen overnight, and healthcare consumers should seek out as much information as possible when selecting a healthcare provider.

Medical negligence is often defined as conduct which deviates from the accepted standard of care, and causes an injury as a result of the deviation. This conduct can be both affirmative, such as the doing of something that should not have been done, and negative, in the sense that something which should have been done was not done. If you believe that you or a loved one has been the victim of medical negligence, you should seek advice from a qualified attorney who has the resources available to properly investigate your concerns. Stark & Stark employs a number of attorneys who focus their practice efforts in this specialized area, as well as a forensic nurse practitioner. There is no charge for a consultation with our medical negligence team.

John Sakson a Shareholder in Stark & Stark’s Lawrenceville, New Jersey office, concentrating in Accident & Personal Injury Law. For more information, please contact Mr. Sakson.