Radio Editorial re hospital lab error and "Medical Mistakes"

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Medical Mistakes

By KYW Medical Editor Dr. Brian McDonough

(08/15/01) The medical mistakes that have occurred at St. Agnes Hospital have been well documented and it is extremely important that medical leaders and the public learn from the tragedy.

But there is a greater problem in the medical system at large that goes well beyond a hospital in South Philadelphia or any group of hospitals.

It is also not possible to know exactly what happened until all the facts come out, but if I were to prioritize what I feel is important in medicine -- what is important to help patients and make them better off than when they first came to see the doctor -- I would say one thing stands out: attention to detail.

Almost any mistake can be prevented if all the facts are evaluated. Even if I don't know how to diagnose or treat a problem, if I pay attention I can get someone who does.

That is the problem in healthcare today. It is being run like any standard business. To save money, nursing staffs have been reduced, lab employees have been reduced, and doctors are told to see patients in eight-minute intervals.

Yes, money is being saved, but at what price? We get what we pay for.

The obvious question -- as the greatest healthcare sytem in the world is being dismantled -- becomes, are we willing to pay the price as attention to detail is replaced by keeping our heads above water?

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