The largest cause of medical errors is congress
Editor's Note: which features contributions from members of the medical community. These blogs are an opportunity for bloggers to engage with readers about a topic that is top of mind, whether it is practice management, experiences with patients, the industry, medicine in general, or healthcare reform. The series continues with this blog by Ken Fisher, MD, who is an internist/nephrologist in Kalamazoo, Michigan, a teacher, author ("Understanding Healthcare: A Historical Perspective") and co-founder of Michigan Chapter Free Market Medicine Association. The views expressed in these blogs are those of their respective contributors and do not represent the views of or UBM Medica.
There has been much published in both the medical and lay press about the magnitude of errors in medicine. This is a contentious subject with wildly variable results most likely due to the difficulties associated with the many and varied complexities of clinical medicine.
Medical errors certainly exist and we should be diligent in trying to completely eliminate them. While knowing that, as with any human enterprise, perfection should be the ultimate goal even though it is most unlikely.
But what constitutes a style of medical practice that minimizes the chances of medical errors?
A close, truthful and thoughtful relationship of adequate time and focused attention with the patient is the best way to avoid medical errors—a situation where the physician has the time to illicit a careful history providing clues to the actual pathophysiology. The physician then needs time to integrate this information into a coherent conceptualization of the issues at hand, a thoughtful differential diagnosis and a rational plan. At this point the physician can order specific tests to further document the actual pathophysiology.
Further reading: Q&A with ACP's Bob Doherty on the future of healthcare
This careful process also fosters the development of a beneficial therapeutic relationship between patient and physician whereby the physician can advise and the patient follows through on a various number of issues aimed at maximizing the patient’s physical and mental health. In this way, unnecessary testing is eliminated, chasing false leads with its inherent problems does not occur while medicine becomes as error-free as humanly possible.