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Where is the shock? Again we read about a medical error, and nobody seems to be outraged. If airlines crashed as frequently as medical errors are made what would people do? We would be outraged! But doctors and hospitals continue to make errors with little accountability.
When doctors at Methodist Hospital made a mistake by removing the healthy kidney from a cancer patient Dr. Samuel Carlson, chief medical officer for Park Nicollet Health Services made the error public.
Accounts by the hospital place blame on a crucial error that happened several weeks before the surgery. Apparently the kidney on the wrong side was identified on the patient’s medical charts as potentially cancerous.
New procedures have now been put into place requiring the surgical team to verify sites using the diagnostic imaging before an operation begins. Did it take this tragic error to enact such simple steps?
According to news reports, 24 wrong site surgeries were reported to the Minnesota Department of Health between October 2006 and October 2007. That is two per month, just in Minnesota folks!
These would have surely gone unreported but for Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty who signed a bill requiring that hospital errors must be reported to the state. We might do well to lobby Governor Beebe of Arkansas to enact the same reporting procedures here in Arkansas.
None of this is surprising in view of the report from the Institute of Medicine which found that medical errors were a leading cause of death and injury in the United States. The Institute found that at least 44,000 and perhaps as many as 98,000 Americans die in hospitals each year as a result of medical errors.
We at the Bailey and Oliver Law Firm think this is unacceptable. Only by holding doctors and hospitals accountable will mistakes become a thing of the past.

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