Monday, February 10, 2003

Elizabeth Kel Caucci writes:
Regarding your post on Thursday, February the 6th, the IOM study that says 44,000 to 98,000 people each year die from medical errors. That has been debunked by the very same doctor, Troyen Brennen, who did the original research (in only TWO hospitals) and who further noted that patient non-compliance in medication instructions and illegal drug use were included as "medical errors" in the study. Hardly a strong indictment of the medical profession [read: not malpractice]. These twisted extrapolations for the entire nation (from only TWO hospital -did I mention) in this small study were never intended by the authors, as they have repeatedly stated in follow up journal articles. The original study was also not designed to determine any causal relation in the sampled mortality cases by identifying the presence or absence of any medical error by subjective physician chart review.

I am terribly sorry if the truth in any way disturbs your rhetoric. I am even more sorry to think that you probably were aware that the IOM study was never about physician errors and just don't care. However, perhaps your professional ethics compels you to print some sort of retraction or clarification.

Gee, did I get somebody mad? First, I included the link to the underlying media reports in the post to which this writer refers. Second, the writer includes no links to support her assertion. If she sends them, I might just post them. Third, it seems to me that the IOM report is about medical "errors"; take out the categories to which the writer refers and I'll still bet that you get a lot of those "errors." Fourth, "rhetoric?" Please. Fifth, professional ethics don't enter into this Blog, which does not purport to give advice or be the manifestation of legal representation. I included the email because, most of the time, I'm fair-minded. If my previous post was -- at least to some extent -- inaccurate, I'm willing to post reasonable responses. I think the point of the underlying articles is still valid.

Frankly, though, I think you're trying to climb a large mountain if you're trying to say that there isn't any malpractice going on. If you assume that most lawyers are like me, in that they turn down 99% of the cases they hear, and if you further assume that, like me, most of those cases state a claim for medical negligence but that damages are not serious enough to justify the financial risk, that in itself proves that there are a tremendous number of "errors" in medical treatment today.

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