Iatrogenic Deaths

Can\’t say that I\’m surprised at these numbers:

There were 9.1 million hospital stays in England in 2005/6 if day case, maternity and mental health patients are not included and Prof Sheldon\’s figures mean 910,303 of these patients suffered harm as a result of a blunder. In 91,030 cases it contributed to their death.

It\’s long been known that such mistakes are the third or fourth (thereabouts) leading cause of death. The only interesting thing is what is anyone going to do about it?

I\’ve got dim memories that someone has suggested a system rather like the one pilots use (which again, I\’m only dimly aware of). They\’re encouraged to report on their mistakes (anonymously, of course) and this then creates a database of things that are known not to be sensible to do. Again, I\’m dimly aware that there\’s been some pressure from within the medical system to not have to do this.

Worth noting that these numbers, while they might be better or worse for the NHS than other medical systems (I\’ve no idea which)  are certainly not unique to it.  There\’ve been reports of similar numbers (relative to population) from the US as well.

Just as an example, one number that went round the econ blogs a few weeks ago was that bariatric surgery ("stomach stapling") has a 1% mortality rate. Yet no drug would ever be approved which killed one in one hundred of those who took it. Either surgery is too little regulated for safety or drugs are too much, one or the other.

4 comments on “Iatrogenic Deaths

  1. This is how Dr. Shipman hid so many murders for so long. His predations weren’t that much different from ordinary care.

  2. “They’re encouraged to report on their mistakes (anonymously, of course) and this then creates a database of things that are known not to be sensible to do. “

    Oh, a database, eh….!

    That’ll be safe…. 🙂

  3. Can’t let this go without mentioning the man who popularised the term ‘iatrogenic’ and wrote the seminal work on the subject, ”Medical Nemesis: The Appropriation of Health’, way back in 1975 – the late great Ivan Illich.

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