Every year there are approximately 400,000 medication errors involving hospitalized patients. Many are medications given at the wrong time or not at all. Of those 400,000 somewhere between seven and 9,000  of those errors result in the death of a patient. RaDonda Vaught, a nurse employed at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, caused the death of a patient with a medication error. I have been thinking about Ms. Vaught a lot lately.
As I watch the current debacle of our children preparing to return to school, I more and more feel it is time to take a moment to talk about the errors we have made. My original thoughts turned to responsibility and accountability, words that have occupied my professional life as a surgeon, words molding my thinking just as they molded my character.
We all make mistakes, but errors by physicians can lead to significant harm to patients. Can we learn from our mistakes? A new study looks for common threads in one area: misdiagnosis.
We understand that patients may be victims of medical error. But should physicians also consider themselves victims when the medical failure results in disability and death?
Does closer supervision of doctors in training result in greater patient safety? Does the practice make for better physicians? It seems that it's all about the stress and anxiety of taking off training wheels.