Reducing Medical Error Requires A Culture Change In Hospitals, Not Just A Checklist

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates 250,000 Americans die annually due to medical errors.

By Lauren SilvermanNovember 23, 2016 9:47 am, , ,

From KERA News

The first time Dr. Mike Williams saw a medical mistake in the operating room, he was a surgery intern in Dallas, in his mid-20s.

“I was in the room assistin,g and this patient was having a colon surgery for a colon cancer,” he recalls. “All of a sudden he starts shaking all over, and we did the surgery. After the fact, we found out he had been awake during the surgery.”

Williams said the anesthetist had mistakenly given the young man only one of two drugs: the one to paralyze him, but not the one put him to sleep.

“It was horrific to me that that would happen in the United States,” Williams says. “I swore up and down that would never happen again.”

Medical errors are the third leading cause of death for Americans

In his dogged pursuit to wipe out medical errors like that one, and unnecessary infections and patient falls, Mike Williams says he hasn’t been everyone’s friend. But since becoming president of UNT Health Science Center in Fort Worth he’s helped secure $4 million in funding from the State Legislature for what he calls a first-of-its-kind patient safety institute in Texas.

“We’ve got cancer institutes everywhere, cardiac institutes everywhere, but we don’t have patient safety institutes,” Williams says.

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