Doctors have become so hopeless at spotting - and reporting - their own errors that they are asking their victims, the patients, to do it for them.
Unfortunately, a new report suggests that the patient is just as bad as the doctor - although the whole dubious system does presuppose that the victim knows when an error has happened. And as 100,000 Americans die each year from medical error it also assumes that their survivors know about the error.
As it is, the patient - or his surviving family - often gets it wrong when identifying an error, according to a study from Harvard University. After monitoring an oncology unit between February and September 2004, the researchers found that the patient was mistaking poor service for medical error.
Can't rely on anyone these days.
(Source: Journal on Quality and Patient Safety, 2007; 33: 83-9).
E-news broadcast 17 May 2007 No.360