We deserve to know more about medical mistakes


Miguel Á. Padriñán | Pexels

Geraldine Taveras

The death of 4-year-old Ashanti Grinage in Texas that resulted from a misdiagnosis calls for a change policy. Doctors reportedly mistook her flu symptoms for a cold and she died of pneumonia on Jan. 31, The New York Post reported.

Along with misdiagnosis, missed warning signs, early discharge, medication overdoses — and underdoses — have proven to be equally as deadly.

This isn’t to say that our doctors are failing at their jobs, but that the health care system around us is faulty.

Largely unrecognized, misdiagnosis is the third-leading cause of death after cancer and heart disease, according to CNBC. Most people are unaware of this information because it is not reported by the National Center for Health Statistics.

CNBC also states that figures fall between 250,000 to 440,000 deaths per year due to hospital errors.

Numbers may be even higher, but according to Martin Makary, M.D., M.P.H., professor of surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, “Incidence rates for deaths directly attributable to medical care gone awry haven’t been recognized in any standardized method for collecting national statistics,” as stated in Johns Hopkins Medicine.

This is because there isn’t an option to mention medical discrepancies in death certificates, so researchers have to do their own independent studies on the topic.

Without proper figures being reported, this problem will not get the appropriate funding needed in order to address the devastating consequence — death.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention generally reports the United States’ top-10 causes of death in order to secure funding on those leading causes of mortality. But with medical errors not on the list, how can we expect the public to demand change?

The Emily Jerry Foundation recognizes medical malpractice as a leading problem. This group aims to educate the public about the prevalence of human error within the medical field and enforce legislation to reaffirm “strict controls in professional training, education, and testing.”

The story outlined on the foundation website is a testament to why the public should not remain silent. Emily Jerry was enduring her last round of chemotherapy in Ohio. Ironically, Emily was declared cancer-free, but her parents followed through her last appointment as a precautionary measure.

After being given a fatal dose, she became limp and shortly after was pronounced brain-dead. The pharmacy technician responsible claimed to not have known that the dose would kill her, according to the organization’s website, prompting her father to ask, “How can a person who works in a pharmacy and compounds medications daily not know that?”

But cases in which individual health administrators are held liable only discourage other hospitals and staff to report such errors. So change must first begin by informing the public on the frequency of medical mistakes so that a proper solution can be devised.