The last time I posted I wrote about the frequency
and danger of diagnostic errors. How do we make them less frequent? The
information on how to do that is sparse and definitive solutions are lacking.
However, several groups of doctors are involved in active quests for answers.
To see what they are up against, let us
look at how doctors first learn to make diagnoses.
After gorging their brains with anatomy, physiology,
pathology and biochemistry for months on end, medical students are finally allowed onto
a hospital ward to examine their very first patient.
I’ve been looking at the issue of medical
errors for a long time. First, I learned to struggle to keep my own at an
absolute minimum like the vast majority of my colleagues. Second, I became a
chief of staff of each of two hospitals and had to take on the investigation of
errors made by other doctors in those institutions. Third, when I retired I
decided to learn and write about the whole field of error detection and
prevention in American medicine. An interesting recent report has highlighted
an important deficiency in the nationwide pursuit of making medicine safer.