Wednesday, March 30, 2011

How safe is your hospital? -

Just before it was disclosed that a medical error at the University of Chicago led to the death of James Tyree, a well-known financier and philanthropist being treated for cancer, I was putting together a presentation examining the quality of care at some of the area's best-known hospitals.

Using publicly available data, I told a meeting of local health care executives that there were warning flags at several institutions, including the U. of C. Tyree, ironically, would have known about any actual problems in far greater detail. He served on the board of the hospital where he died from an air embolism in a dialysis catheter, and hospital officials said in an interview that they regularly report safety data to board members.

There's an important distinction between great doctoring and great safety. The U. of C. has a reputation for outstanding cancer care. That's likely the reason that Tyree, suffering from stomach cancer and pneumonia, had a relatively good prognosis when he entered the hospital and why his death so shocked his family and friends. But as a wise physician once warned, "Every hospital should have a plaque at its entrance that reads, 'There are some patients whom we cannot help; there are none whom we cannot harm.'"

Click on the "via" link for the rest of the article.

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