Physicians ‘Biggest Obstacle’ to Medical Error Reforms, New York Times Says
Physicians "may be the biggest obstacle" to reforms proposed to reduce medical errors, which kill "tens of thousands" of patients each year and injure "countless more," a New York Times editorial states. The editorial cites the results of a survey published last week in the New England Journal of Medicine. According to the survey, conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health and the Kaiser Family Foundation, 35% of physicians said that they or a family member had experienced a medical error in the past year, and 30% said that they had observed a medical error in the past year that led to "serious harm" in a patient, the editorial states. However, the survey found "troubling attitudes" from physicians, who "were lukewarm toward many reforms" -- such as a reduction in work hours for medical residents -- to address the problem, the editorial states. "While the evidence is growing ever stronger that medical errors are a danger to many patients, it is disturbing to find such retrograde attitudes among physicians," the editorial states. The editorial concludes, "Reform can succeed only if the medical profession gets behind changes that expert groups and plain common sense suggests could significantly reduce the harm caused by medical errors" (New York Times, 12/18).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.