Epilepsy Talk

Medical Mistakes Out of Control! | July 16, 2016

Here’s a sobering statistic for you…

Believe it or not, the total number of medical errors and deaths in the U.S. equals SIX jumbo jets crashing every day!

If a Jumbo Jet crashed and killed 280 people everyday…365 days a year…year after year…would you be concerned about flying?

Would you question the Federal Aviation Administration? Would you demand answers?

Think about it…close to 100,000 people dying every year from plane crashes. Sounds Ridiculous??!!

The numbers can be overwhelming and astonishing: The error rate of ICU’s (Intensive Care Units) would be like the post office losing over 16,000 pieces of mail every hour of every day.

Or like our banks wrongly cashing 32,000 checks every hour of every day, every year!

In one decade, the deaths caused by conventional medicine are approximately 8 million. This is more than all the casualties from all the wars America has ever fought in. And that’s just one decade.

In short, the American medical system is the number one killer in the U.S.

One in five Americans (22%) report that they or a family member have experienced a medical error of some kind.

Nationally, this translates into an estimated 22.8 million people with at least one family member who experienced a mistake in a doctor’s office or hospital.

According to a Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), the number of paid malpractice claims reported for events in the outpatient setting was similar to the number in the inpatient setting.

Meanwhile, there are now almost “30 times more outpatient visits than hospital discharges annually,” according to the JAMA study, “and invasive and high-technology diagnostic and therapeutic procedures are increasingly being performed in the outpatient setting.”

However, outpatient settings are rarely regulated like hospitals.

So, those hospital procedures that have been deemed effective in reducing errors need to be modified for outpatient settings.

In hospitals, surgical errors are the number one reason patients or their families file malpractice suits (34%), with diagnostic errors (21%) and treatment errors (20%) rounding out the top three.

In the outpatient setting, diagnostic errors were implicated in a whopping 46% of the malpractice settlements, while treatment decisions comprised 30% of the errors.  At 14%, surgical errors were cited far less frequently as the basis for successful lawsuits.

In both settings though, more than two-thirds of the time these errors led to serious outcomes — for outpatients some 70% of the malpractice claims involved death or a major injury like permanent brain damage.

In other words, outpatient care may be just as hazardous to your health.

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) reports that a total of 1.5 million preventable injuries occur each year as a result of lapses in medication safety.

Almost half of these befall residents of nursing homes or other long-term care facilities…about 400,000 afflict hospital patients…and the rest occur in outpatient settings.

Injuries to hospital patients alone are said by IOM to generate $3.5 billion in extra medical costs.

Given that many drug-related injuries go undetected and/or unreported, the report concedes that the estimate of 1.5 million injuries is likely too low.

But as the study titled “To err is human…” asserts: the problem is not bad people in health care — it is that good people are working in bad systems that need to be made safer.

Let’s not forget that doctors are people, too. Over worked, overwhelmed, sleep deprived, understaffed and suffer the daily burden of “death” by insurance claims.

My best internist retired a few years ago, long before it was necessary.

When I asked him why, he said: “I went to medical school to help heal people and make them better. I did not go to become an insurance clerk. When you don’t have enough time to treat your patients, it’s time to quit.”

I saw him at a restaurant about a year later. He looked wonderful. Like a different man.

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Another article of interest:

 Study: 1 in 20 Americans Misdiagnosed http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2014/04/16/at-least-1-in-20-americans-misdiagnosed-by-their-doctors-study-finds?src=usn_fb











  1. The error rate would be reduced to zero if no diagnoses were made. You of course realize that that wouldn’t be a good idea! You are also inferring that medical diagnoses are more dangerous than guns? ….that also is misleading. Whoever claimed that correctly diagnosing medical conditions was easy? Idiosyncratic reactions to pharmaceuticals, self induced conditions such as obesity and drug addiction not to mention genetic predispositions all,contribute to,”errors.” Doctotors aren’t gods, indeed on average 50 percent of them graduated in the lower half of their class !
    I respectfully suggest that your focus should be on the types of errors that ARE predictable and preventable … Such as the over use of narcotic analgesics, unnecessary surgical procedures, drug interactions and so on. As it is, your no doubt well intentioned article is alarmist and very negative.

    Michael ( not a doctor)!


    Comment by Michael H — July 16, 2016 @ 6:21 PM

    • Your point is well taken. But you should read:

      Why You Should AVOID Going To The Hospital… (If You Can!)


      Excerpt: Here is a compilation of different medical mistakes from such organizations as The Institute of Medicine and The National Patient Safety Foundation:

      Diagnosis mistakes (Note: there are various mistakes that can cause a misdiagnosis of a condition.

      Misdiagnosis can be one of the most costly of medical errors, leading to delayed, omitted, or inappropriate medical treatments.

      Unfortunately, the wording in the study for misdiagnosis is often “misdiagnosis” or “wrong treatment”, so it’s unclear exactly how many were true misdiagnoses — or a wrong condition treated with the wrong treatment.)

      Prescribing errors (68%)

      Technical errors (44%)

      Misdiagnosis (40%)

      Hospital (48%) – account for all errors — including medical procedure error (22%), operating room (7%), emergency room (5%), untrained staff/incompetence (14%)

      Medication error (28%)

      Carelessness/negligence (29%)

      Administration errors (25%)

      Not to prove too fine a point, but it’s depressing. 😦


      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — July 17, 2016 @ 9:22 AM

  2. Gee, I can’t help but thinking if we had single-payer health care, like nearly every other industrialized country in the world, we could have doctors and medical practitioners being busy caring for and healing people, and let the office employees do the work they’re assigned to do. Is that so radical? Some of these countries have been doing this since the forties.


    Comment by catsissie — July 17, 2016 @ 3:10 AM

  3. Having grown up in England I have to agree that a single payer system Is fairer but please don’t think it is free of paper work or tons of regulations and restrictions. Also did you know that you can also have access to private medicine in the U K if you, or your employer is wiling to pay for it?


    The main advantage of the British NHS system is that it is patient need driven rather than Doctor profit driven as ours often appears to be. Furthermore the price of drugs to the British NHS is controlled. The US pays much more than the European Community for branded drugs….the same drugs from the same companies, American or European. Indeed we have the longest drug patent periods and the highest branded drug prices in the world with the possible exception of Japan. However average waiting periods for non essential procedures are usually longer under the NHS than in the US … for those of us with good health plans that is.

    For those of us who are lucky enough to be on a good health care plan in the US it is difficult to imagine how awful it is for the millions with inadequate coverage or even no coverage. This may be one of the reasons that life expectancy here is lower, for certain groups of people than it is in Northern Europe.


    Comment by Michael H — July 17, 2016 @ 7:05 PM

    • Michael, all I knew about private health is the Canadians jumping the border, as the article said, to seek private medical attention in the US.

      Your article is fascinating, as are your insights.

      I know the NIH process runs at a snail’s pace, if the need for a new hip, etc. is required.

      But I didn’t know about the possibility of private medicine via your employer.

      But wow! What a concept having price controlled drugs!

      The insurance situation here is more than pathetic and I know of so many who have trouble or can’t afford their meds.

      Like you, I wonder what would happen if those necessary drugs were easily available.


      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — July 18, 2016 @ 9:49 AM

  4. The frist set of dpt shots, the doctors didn,t pay att. because of what happen to me, you think why would they give me the full amont the second time.


    Comment by michele metzger — July 17, 2016 @ 11:40 PM

  5. So Michele, what was the result?


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — July 18, 2016 @ 9:18 AM

  6. That the t in the dpt shots is what made sick with a high fever, coma and to side,s of brian damage. then got epiipesy, at 3 month,s old.


    Comment by michele metzger — July 18, 2016 @ 11:20 AM

  7. A few years ago, I was given Dilantin to stop my seizures. But I was given the medcation and probably too quickly. Next thing I know, my arm was in intense pain and I couldn’t breathe. I tried to tell the nurse but she dismissed me and left the room. I started crying and screaming and she finally came back and realized my blood pressure was dropping as well as my heart rate. I stopped breathing for about 3 mins! Luckily, my heart started on its own. But they refused to stop the medication. This is according to my ex who was with me at the time.
    I filed a complaint against that doctor and nurse but never heard back. I could have died. Now I always make a note in my chart that I’m allergic.


    Comment by Liza — July 18, 2016 @ 12:21 PM

  8. Liza, true that your medication was probably administered too quickly, but you shouldn’t have to be the doctor.

    And it must have been terrifying to be in that life-threatening position.

    What happened to patient’s rights? Not to mention just plain decent care.

    I’ve read a story about an elderly man being brought into the ER having a terrible seizure.

    When people “complained about the noise”, he was shuttled to a back room where he couldn’t “disturb” anyone.

    Meanwhile, his son kept running to the nurse’s desk, very agitated, because his father was having trouble breathing.

    When the nurses finally deigned to go back to check on him, he had died of respiratory failure.


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — July 18, 2016 @ 12:47 PM

  9. I have blogged before and I will continue until Drs. are educated. I strongly believe I am a victim of misdiagnosis. My sleeping problem began in 2011 – 2012. I was overextended by teaching high school math, teaching eight college credits and taking a education master’s class online. And, I was enjoying it, until sleeping became a problem.

    For three years I was prescribed junk sleeping pills. It was a vicious cycle. In July, 2014, I had an unobserved, misdiagnosed grand mal seizure. On January 8, 2015, I had another seizure, right in the Dr.’s office. On a scale of 1-10,the Dr. said my seizure registered a 15.

    Why couldn’t my sleep disorder have been treated effectively before I began having seizures? I was prescribed Keppra. This product needs to be jerked off the market. I could not function at all. On April 3, I admitted myself to a behavioral center to be taken off of Keppra. The telemed psychiatrist and nurse practitioner refused. And, I was not leaving the center until I was off this so-called medicine. I asked them to treat the underlying problem, the sleep disorder, and I would not have seizures.

    I have not worked in a year. I have been living off of my teacher’s retirement. I am off of Keppra, and on Xanax , for sleeping and panic attacks. I want to work and have accepted jobs, only to panic when 35 high school students walk into my class.

    I have a disability meeting next week. Do I want disability? I don’t think so. I’m sure soldiers with PTSD deserve it more, but I do want these uneducated Drs. held responsible for their mistreatments. I feel a class action lawsuit is more in order.

    Rather than prescribe Xanax for sleeping and panic attacks, Drs. would rather wait and prescribe Keppra when the seizures begin.

    It doesn’t take a medical degree or a rocket scientist to understand the underlying logic. Am I missing the point somewhere or is this truly malpractice?



    Comment by Mickie Wright — October 1, 2016 @ 12:43 AM

    • Having also been the victim of misdiagnosis and in my case more importantly the long term side effects of drugs prescribed correctly, I can only say that I am sorry that you had had such bad experiences.

      The following review article should interest you.


      However, to be fair to the medical profession we must accept that making a Diagnosis is often not easy and a certain percent of mistakes are inevitable. The human body is not an automotive with a computerized diagnostic system. Furthermore individual idiosycratic reactions to drugs cannot be predicted. I personally cannot tolerate sleeping pills, statins or the Ativan/Vallium/Xanax group of drugs but they help millions of people whose bodies can tolerate them.

      As to malpractice, well you would need legal advice to determine if your case meets the legal definition and that means dealing with lawyers. Now as a class lawyers make doctors seem like angels so god help you!


      Comment by Michael H — October 1, 2016 @ 1:35 AM

      • Michael, thanks for the article, it was terrific. As to malpractice, you know what they say: “Medicine is an art, not a science.” (And sometimes a clumsy “art” at that!)


        Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — October 1, 2016 @ 9:04 AM

    • I don’t get it Mickie. All it takes is a simple sleep study (Polysomnography) with expanded EEG aids to indicate the difference between seizures and parasomnias — a disruptive sleep disorder that can occur during arousals from REM sleep or partial arousals from non-REM sleep.


      Didn’t you have a sleep study?


      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — October 1, 2016 @ 8:57 AM

  10. No, my fault. A sleep study was ordered and I did not follow through. In my defense, without sleep for three days, it was hard to follow through on anything, let alone teach school.



    Comment by Mickie Wright — October 2, 2016 @ 7:14 PM

  11. Ok Mickie, so you know what the next step is. Let me know what happens, ok?


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — October 3, 2016 @ 9:02 AM

  12. 3 times for me! Given in the ER what medications I am allergic to. The hospital unit gives me a a medication I am allergic too. Sued

    Pharmacy mix blood pressure medication with sz medication. Sick as a dog! Sued. Was on TV

    Allergic reaction to medication used other meds similar to kept getting sicker. Hospitalized for 10 days 3 days in intensive care.


    Comment by red2robi — June 22, 2017 @ 1:13 PM

    • TWO lawsuits? Sounds like they really screwed up, BIG TIME.

      Oh boy, with all that mess, I’m glad you’re here with us now.


      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — June 22, 2017 @ 1:44 PM

      • The first one the had to intubation was needed. I had anaphylaxis. This hospital is the closest hospital to me.


        Comment by red2robi — June 22, 2017 @ 2:41 PM

  13. Well that’s rather extreme. I guess you won’t be going there.

    It literally is a case of life or death! 😦


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — June 22, 2017 @ 2:58 PM

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    About the author

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    I've been a professional copywriter for over 35 years. I also had epilepsy for decades. My mission is advocacy; to increase education, awareness and funding for epilepsy research. Together, we can make a huge difference. If not changing the world, at least helping each other, with wisdom, compassion and sharing.

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