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Medical Errors

February 28, 2011 | By Valerie Ulene, Special to the Los Angeles Times
No one wants to think about the possibility that something will go wrong — that an error will be made — with his or her medical care. But the fact is, mistakes are inevitable in medicine. Often they're easily corrected or result in little or no lasting harm. Sometimes, though, they have tragic consequences. The medical malpractice system provides a way for patients who've suffered injuries as a result of medical mistakes to be compensated. Unfortunately, it's a system that's seriously flawed.
March 25, 2013 | By Monte Morin, Los Angeles Times
It's been 15 years now, but Dr. Sanjay Desai remembers the brutal hours he worked as a young medical intern and how he struggled with fatigue while treating patients. "There were days we were easily working 36 hours straight and you couldn't remember how you got home - if you got home," Desai said. "It wasn't safe. " Times have changed. Regulations now demand that teaching hospitals limit first-year trainees to 16-hour shifts. By reducing work hours, medical authorities reasoned, interns would get more sleep, suffer less fatigue and commit fewer mistakes.
November 28, 2012 | By Chad Terhune, Los Angeles Times
A national report card on patient safety gave a failing grade to Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, one of the country's most prestigious hospitals and one of only 25 nationwide to receive such low marks. In a report issued Wednesday, the Leapfrog Group, an employer-backed nonprofit group focused on healthcare quality, gave a letter grade of F to UCLA Medical Center for performing poorly on several measures tied to preventing medical errors, patient infections and deaths. Leapfrog withheld a failing grade for UCLA in June when it released its first-ever hospital safety scores to give low-performing hospitals time to show improvement.
October 31, 2004 | Kathleen Doheny, Healthy Traveler
The first effective vaccine against malaria made news earlier this month as scientists reported success in fighting the mosquito-borne illness that strikes 400 million people annually worldwide. In clinical trials in Africa, the vaccine prevented nearly half of new infections in children and reduced the number of serious cases by nearly 60%. But because more clinical trials are needed and manufacturing plants take five to six years to build, the new malaria vaccine isn't expected to be widely available until 2010 at the earliest.
At 3 a.m., intern Michael Greger, awakened for the fifth time that night, listened as a nurse ticked off a long list of blood test results for one of his patients, then fell back into an exhausted stupor. Later in the morning, when he checked the patient's chart, Greger was horrified: He had failed to realize that one of the blood tests clearly showed the man was in imminent danger of having a fatal arrhythmia, a heart rhythm disturbance. The patient was rushed to intensive care. * It was 2 a.m.
January 28, 2008 | Susan Brink, Times Staff Writer
A technician mistakes an "a" for an "o" in a drug name. A doctor misplaces a decimal point in a prescription order. A nurse reaches for a vial in a cabinet as she's done hundreds of times before, only this time the light is dim and she fails to notice that the powder-blue label is more of a sky blue. The slip-ups are often simple, and always human, and all have happened in U.S. hospitals.
March 24, 2003 | Valerie Reitman, Times Staff Writer
When Duke University surgeons last month transplanted an incompatible set of organs into teenager Jesica Santillan, who would later die, the doctors and hospital publicly confessed the mix-up and apologized. Such candor is part of a growing trend among hospitals to own up to the truth when patients are harmed by the medical care that is supposed to help them. Saying "I'm sorry," along with acknowledging the error, can also help ease the pain for patients and their families.
December 20, 1999 | From Washington Post
Public concern about medical mistakes has intensified in the past several weeks, spurred by the publication of a bluntly worded report by the Institute of Medicine, a branch of the National Academy of Sciences. An institute panel concluded that medical errors, many of them preventable, kill an estimated 98,000 Americans annually. That number is more than the toll from breast cancer, traffic accidents or AIDS.
Howard Pierce was in Tampa, Fla., demonstrating his company's software for helping doctors make diagnoses, when one physician asked for help on an especially vexing case. A middle-aged woman had odd swelling on her right side, specifically around her shoulders and lips, explained Dr. Willard S. Harris, chief of medical service at the James A. Haley Veterans' Hospital in Tampa.
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