Medical Errors: Consequences for Human Lives

Subject: Healthcare Research
Pages: 3
Words: 575
Reading time:
3 min
Study level: College

Medical errors are regarded to be very expensive, especially when it comes to human lives. Unfortunately, they tend to be common and cause many unexpected complications. Thus, it is crucial to encourage patient safety movements to prevent medical errors.

One of such movements is presented at the website of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement. This campaign was called “Protecting 5 Million Lives from Harm” and supported the improvement in the field of medical care in the United States. It was stated to reduce the levels of mortality and morbidity significantly. The campaign lasted for two years in the period from 2006 to 2008. Its main goals were to encourage hospitals to reduce harm and death from medical errors by preventing pressure sources, reducing infections caused by medical errors, preventing harm from such medications as sedatives and narcotics. I think the campaign was successful as it managed to improve the work of more than 3,600 hospitals and assisted in sharing the ideas and best practices used to improve healthcare in the United States (“Overview of “Protecting 5 Million Lives from Harm” campaign,” 2017).

Although it is not clear whether the campaign managed to save five million lives, it was stated that this initiative greatly contributed to the reduction of patients’ injuries and the overall study of the level of harm caused by medical errors. This work is consistent with Ms. Schweitzer’s speech in TEDs Talk where she shared with the audience her experience of medical errors that resulted in the death of her son. She claimed that the hospital did everything to make a transparent investigation of this case and stated that such kind of transparency might be healing for relatives (TEDx Talks, 2013). I think that her position is very argumentative because she shared all the facts of her son’s death and the hospital’s attitude. Therefore, I share her call for improving transparency and compassion in the situations involving medical errors.

It is stated that many patients experience the harmful conditions that could be prevented. These conditions should be detected to promote safety and quality of healthcare. It is emphasized that some insurance companies, including Medicare, tend to deny payment for hospitals when their patients experience some preventable complications. Among such complications are “objects left in patients after surgery, hospital-acquired urinary tract infections, central line-associated bloodstream infections, administration of incompatible blood products, air metabolism, patient falls and other conditions” (Pronovost, Goeschel, & Wachter, 2008, p. 2197). I think that insurance companies are right when they deny paying hospitals for such preventable complications.

This kind of work contributes greatly to the improvement of healthcare. Nevertheless, it is a general opinion that the specificity of diagnosing some of the listed complications is far from perfect. Thus, many complications are not diagnosed, while there are some patients who do not have the complications detected by physicians. Moreover, there is a possibility that hospitals might speculate on the problem of preventable complications trying not to diagnose or ignore them. There is also a chance that some patients might take precautionary measures and deny taking certain medicines because of possible complications. Therefore, mutual trust is important in healthcare and the improvement of its quality.

The discussion dealt with the problem of medical errors in the healthcare system. The case of the boy’s death caused by the medical error was observed. It was emphasized that transparency and compassion in healthcare are important. The precautions of insurance companies were reviewed as well.


Overview of “Protecting 5 Million Lives from Harm” campaign. (2017). Web.

Pronovost, P. J., Goeschel, C. A., & Wachter, R. M. (2008). The wisdom and justice of not paying for “preventable complications”. Journal of American Medical Association, 299(18), 2197-2199.

TEDx Talks. (2013). Transparency, compassion, and truth in medical errors: Leilani Schweitzer at TEDxUniversityofNevada. Web.