at all. Many of those who are receiving optimum care have turned a cold shoulder to those who aren’t. Tragically, in America at the dawn of the new millennium, "Care Follows the Buck".
The benefits of capitalism have a downside when it comes to ethics in medicine. The image of the ‘free wielding capitalist’ has invaded the notion of the holy calling to heal the sick. Increasingly, young doctors entering Medicine look with envy at their peers who, with far less grueling preparation, quickly enter lucrative professions. Once graduated, the young doctor often finds herself or himself loaded down with bills that have to be paid. Large numbers of patients have to be seen to make money. Volume and speed become a priority.
And so, in the midst of all of the wonders of modern American Medicine, exists a ‘silent cancer’ - the growing epidemic of medical malpractice. While the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences lists the number of dead from medical error as 44,000 to 98,000 each year, some key members of the National Patient Safety Foundation feel the number may be over 250,000 annually. Who knows what the true rate of injured is each year?
How aptly put the most recent meeting of the National Patient Safety Foundation in Chicago (May 7-9, 2000). It was called, "Racing Against Time".
The final day of the meeting was entitled, "The End of the Beginning". This took the stirring words of Churchill during World War II. The premise of this final session was that much of the preliminary work in facing up to the problem of medical error had been addressed by American Medical Association. This meeting marked a symbolic "end" to this phase. Now, organized medicine and medical planners must turn their attention to solutions.
This use of Churchillian phrases was also aptly put. For, in truth, the issue of medical error should be perceived as the moral equivalent of war. If a quarter of a million people are dying every year from medical error, what could be a greater national emergency? To date, this "silent slaughter" (a phrase coined by a prominent victim, Elizabeth LaBozetta), has been one of the most well hidden issues in the country.
Medical Regulation – What’s Wrong?
1. Our system of medical tort law has been a major factor in turning many
physicians into liars. Its existence as the primary regulator of medical
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