It has long been a challenge to collect accurate data when it comes to medical mistakes. Hospitals are reluctant to admit responsibility for any number of reasons. When hospitals hide information concerning fatal errors, they help perpetuate them. It is impossible to know where to direct safety efforts when the dangers are all hidden.
In 1980, heart disease was responsible for an estimated 507 deaths for every 100,000 Americans. By 2015, that number had been trimmed to 253 deaths. The medical community has waged war on cardiovascular disease for 35 years, and in many respects they are winning. While the various forms of heart disease are still the number one cause of death, totaling 846,000 deaths in 2014 alone, the concerted effort has produced impressive results. Unfortunately, those results have not reached the public in a uniform manner.
For many years now, hospitals and public health experts have focused attention on the problem of infant mortality. Infant mortality is often used as a benchmark for the quality of health care provided by a hospital, across a state or throughout a nation. Decades of effort have led to significant progress in the area of infant mortality. The U.S. currently enjoys its lowest rate on record. All the effort to protect and nurture infants through childbirth should not have come at the expense of the mothers delivering them, but there is troubling evidence that it has.
There are a number of reasons so many people dread going to the hospital. In addition to the likelihood of pain and embarrassment, hospitals are places where lots of sick people congregate. That means they are prime locations to spread bacteria and germs. Some people avoid medical care for the fear of succumbing to new illnesses encountered at the hospital. While it is not a good idea to delay or avoid needed medical treatment, the fear of getting sick because of a hospital visit is valid.
For some, the list of side effects for a particular drug may be alarming. Others might take comfort from the feeling that the drug has been thoroughly tested to reveal its potential dangers. One of the main reasons those side effects are listed is so that patients and their doctors can keep an eye out for adverse reactions associated with a medication. Unfortunately, many new drugs are approved without a comprehensive understanding of side effects, even deadly ones. According to a recent study, 32 percent of the prescription drugs approved by the FDA from 2001 to 2010 did not warn patients of all the potential side effects.
America is reported to have the best health care system in the world. We trust our doctors and most of the time, with good reason. However, recent research published by the Mayo Clinic and reported in the Washington Post reveals that we haven't yet reached a point where we should trust our medical providers so completely.