If you pay attention at all to news about medicine, you must have heard about the tragic death of a 12-year old boy who was seen and discharged from the emergency department of the prestigious New York University Medical Center. He had developed sepsis from what appears to have been a small cut and the diagnosis was missed. When he eventually returned to the ED and was admitted, it was too late and he died.
Many have commented on this sad story. The good people at ProPublica, some of whom I follow on Twitter, wrote about this and other types of medical errors in a piece entitled “Why Can’t Medicine Seem to Fix Simple Mistakes?” I will grant that some of the errors they mentioned, such as wrong-site surgery and reusing syringes, are indeed simple mistakes and should be 100 percent preventable.