Suppose two jumbo jets crashed every day, killing a total of about 365,000 people in a year. Remarkably enough that’s about the level of carnage caused every year in our country by avoidable medical mistakes.

We would never tolerate such an incredible loss of life were it caused by recurring plane crashes (or most anything else). The Federal Aviation Authority would be given immediate and unlimited funding to figure out exactly why the planes were crashing and to do whatever it takes to make them safe again.

In fact, complete reporting of mistakes, and constantly correcting them, has made flying in a commercial plane about the safest thing a person can ever do.

In contrast, and inexplicably, we tolerate an equivalent loss of life caused by medical mistakes, despite the fact that they have become the third leading cause of death in the US. There is no public fear and rage, no sustained and coordinated effort to identify the major sources of error and eliminate them.

 

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