Thursday, March 3, 2011

Efforts Needed to Prevent Medical Mistakes

The efforts made for a culture of life in Korea extends far beyond abortion and fetal experiments: we have  suicide, animal experiments, cosmetic surgery, smoking and drinking, gambling, drinking and driving,  and many others. The article in the Catholic Peace Weekly by a professor emeritus of Seoul University, gives us another, the problem in hospitals because of medical mistakes.

Hospitals are considered safe havens but those who work in hospitals know that for the old and children with little immunity, they are a dangerous place, and the medical teams  are the first to be upset with the situation.

In recent years, we have the introduction of  new equipment, and up grading but this has not decreased the number of medical mistakes but increased it.  The hospitals in Korea do not publish or make known, or is there any system to find out statistically the number of these mistakes in order to prevent it from happening again.

One professor in a medical school here in Korea taking his information from a research paper from  the States and considering  the numbers of patients entering hospitals, estimates that we would have about 36,000 deaths in Korea because of medical mistakes. The writer compares it to the 7,000 deaths from  car accidents each year. To prevent these accidents, we use air bags, changed the traffic system and use all our ingenuity to lessen the accidents.  If we made a similar  effort  in our hospitals he feels we could diminish the numbers by about 40%.

 From  the last years of the 1990s, the developed countries  have made studies of the problem and taken steps to change. Here in Korea this has not been done. Mistakes are made in giving medicine, there is the problem with hospital infections, mistaken diagnosis, mistakes in surgery, and no effort to determine the causes and  prevent them from happening again.

He mentions that in 1999 in the US 100,000 died of medical accidents. The World Health Organisation has asked in its 2002  general meeting that all the national  members remember that the problem is not only a national  problem but a world problem, and they resolved to recommend  patient safety  programs to the national members.

The professor emeritus quotes a  professor from the Seoul Medical School: "Like the US we as individuals or as a medical team, without names and  maintaining  secrecy  should  report our medical mistakes. Not to question our responsibility, but so it  doesn't happen again; to examine what went  wrong  and to notify all the other hospitals, so they also will know what to do."    

The professor finishes the article asking that the government take an interest in legislating, so the  patient's safety will be taken into account.

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