A: They both make mistakes that could kill people, and they both use a national incident reporting system to avoid repeating those mistakes.
Oh, wait…doctors don’t do that.
Something must be broken. Depending on who you believe, somewhere between 75,000 and 250,000 deaths each year are iatrogenic.
– adj. Caused inadvertently by a physician or surgeon or by a medical treatment or diagnostic procedure.
Doesn’t it seem funny that the nuclear power industry, so often cast in a villainous role in our society, has learned this lesson, but that doctors haven’t? Seriously, take a look at my South-by-Southwest (SXSW) 2011 proposal. When a nuclear operator screws up or even potentially screws up, the incident is logged, and more importantly, a description of the problem and a solution are disseminated to every nuclear plant in America. When a doctor screws up, who ever hears of it, except maybe a spouse or the other people around the conference table at a weekly M&M?
Making mistakes is human, and it’s part of learning. Everyone makes mistakes. In January, Kent Bottles— pediatrician, blogger, speaker, Twitter-master—asked why smart people don’t learn from mistakes. The answer is simple to say but not so easy to do: in order to learn from mistakes, smart people, like everyone else, have to admit the mistakes, analyze them, and understand how to avoid them. Otherwise, the same damned mistakes keep getting made over and over again.
Medical professionals make mistakes so often that tens of thousands die from them each year. Dying from an error is unfortunate. Dying from an error that could have been prevented if doctors shared their mistakes is senseless.
Let’s do something. Support the creation of a national incident reporting system. Vote for Life-saving Errors: Health 2.0 Incident Reporting for SXSW 2011.