Blunders. Iatrogenesis continues to be very important – for us all. It may become more so…

Since the duty of candour is out-trumped by the climate of fear, there is not much progress possible until we have an honest language and exit interviews done by independent third party. It will still taker a decade to change the culture, even with many more doctors, and there is no sign of this happening,. In fact applications to rural Wales for training GPs are down to “rock bottom”. Whistle-blowers should be honoured, and those who fail to give honest interviews in retirement should be derided… the opposite of what currently happens.

Ivan Illich

Chris Smyth in the Times 4th May 2016 reports on blunder (Iatrogenesis) related deaths in the English Health Service. “Medical Error is the third biggest cause of death.

One death in ten is the result of a medical error, according to researchers who are calling for a register of all fatal mistakes to combat the problem.

Wrong diagnoses, miscommunication and fragmented care are third only to heart disease and cancer as causes of death in the developed world, they say, and death certificates and statistics ought to be changed to record deaths by blunders. They said that registers of mistakes would allow researchers to investigate patterns and prevent them.

Martin Makary, of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said that the problem did not get the funding and attention it deserved.

He analysed studies of deaths due to medical errors, concluding in the BMJ that the average figure was about a quarter of a million a year in the US.

“There are individual errors as well as system failures,” Professor Makary said. “If we looked at this we would see the problem is significant. I believe that the problem of poor quality medical care or medical error is one of the top public health issues in the world.”

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said: “We want the NHS to be the safest healthcare system in the world and we are committed to understanding more about avoidable mortality, which, as this study highlights, is a problem around the world.”

The nation hooked on prescription medicines – no more than many others actually..

This entry was posted in A Personal View, Stories in the Media on by .

About Roger Burns - retired GP

I am a retired GP and medical educator. I have supported patient participation throughout my career, and my practice, St Thomas; Surgery, has had a longstanding and active Patient Participation Group (PPG). I support the idea of Community Health Councils, although I feel they should be funded at arms length from government. I have taught GP trainees for 30 years, and been a Programme Director for GP training in Pembrokeshire 20 years. I served on the Pembrokeshire LHG and LHB for a total of 10 years. I completed an MBA in 1996, and I along with most others, never had an exit interview from any job in the NHS! I completed an MBA in 1996, and was a runner up for the Adam Smith prize for economy and efficiency in government in that year. This was owing to a suggestion (St Thomas' Mutual) that practices had incentives for saving by being allowed to buy rationed out services in the following year.

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