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Tag: World Patient Safety Day

When Medical Error Becomes Personal, Activism Becomes Painful

BY MICHAEL MILLENSON

In the mid-1990s, researching a book about the quality of medical care, I discovered how the profession had for years been ignoring evidence about the appalling death toll from preventable medical error. Though I’d never myself experienced an error, I became an activist.

Recently, however, a relative was a victim, and the frustrating persistence of error became personally painful.

Thanks to my relative being acutely aware of the need to be alert (and a bit of luck), no harm was caused by what could have been a serious medication mistake. That was the good news. The bad news is that even Famous Name Hospitals, like the one where my relative was treated, are rarely doing everything possible to forestall the impact of inevitable human fallibility.

September 17 was World Patient Safety Day, and the theme for the next 12 months is “Medication Without Harm.” That makes this an opportune time to examine more closely what the profession euphemistically calls a “medication misadventure.”

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