Why Are Medical Errors Killing 98,000 Americans Each Year?

Medical errors kill as many as 98,000 Americans each year, according to the Institute of Medicine, a government advisory group.  This number is astounding, and this article in the Wall Street Journal is just one of many that keeping highlighting the need for digitizing our nation’s healthcare system to help decrease medical errors.  Somewhere around $20 billion has been allocated as part of Obama’s “stimulus plan” to digitizing/modernizing our health care system.  However, it’s going to take years for this to be implemented universally in America’s hospitals and physicians’ offices.  Beyond digitizing, all systems have to speak in a common language to ensure that once digitized, patient information can be shared seamlessly. 

My perspective is that in the near term, consumers have to take the lead in ensuring that their information is easily accessed by all of of their providers to improve their health outcomes.  There are ways that this can be done while we wait for the nation’s health infrastructure to be modernized.  Portals such as Google Health and Microsoft’s Health Vault are heading in the right direction, although their business models appear to leave much to be desired in regards to personal privacy and ease of gathering/uploading consumers’ personal health information.  The consumer has to drive this transition — we can’t wait for the government to get this done. Turning Medical Errors to Good Use – WSJ.com.


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