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Our Crumbling Health Care System in Action: Surgeons Required To Take A Timeout?

Ever wonder I remind you constantly that doctors are the third leading cause of death in the U.S.? This story from the ABC News Web site says a lot.

To prevent mixups that result in botched surgeries and unnecessary deaths, U.S. hospitals must guarantee each surgery begins with a "timeout" to verify the patient's identity, the procedure and where it must be performed to maintain their status as an accredited facility. This is part of a three-step process prior to surgery that ensures operations are performed on the right person and body part.

Although similar policies have been implemented at some hospitals, this new protocol is the first time such an initiative has become standard practice on a national scale. Hospitals must follow it to receive Medicare reimbursements.

Of the 70 million surgeries performed annually in the U.S., almost 100,000 die as a result of such errors, surpassing AIDS, breast cancer and auto accidents. Not surprisingly, some experts believe that estimate is far too conservative. No kidding! The Journal of the American Medical Association published its estimate that some 250,000 Americans die each year due to mistakes doctors make which include:

  • unnecessary surgery
  • medication errors in hospitals
  • other hospital errors
  • infections in hospitals
  • non-errors, negative effects of drugs

ABC News July 1, 2004

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