Tuesday, November 7, 2006
Death Takes A Job In A Hospital
U.S. medicine is increasingly expensive, filtered through unqualified insurance-o-crats and becoming less and less accessible.
But at least it's better than the medical system in Britain, where the chance of death by medical error is a breath taking 1 in 300.
Britain's senior doctor made the estimate recently. Presumably that's a lifetime risk.
That's about the lifetime risk in the U.S. of dying from gunfire, overdosing on narcotics, or falling down. According to the National Safety Council, the least likely accidental cause of death in the U.S. is by a snake or lizard bite.
The most common include car crash, self-inflicted gunshot (not really an accident, assault with a firearm, or the ever popular falling down.
In Britain, the average chap is 33,000 times more likely to die from a medical error in a hospital than in an air crash, according to the chief medical officer Sir Liam Donaldson. "In an airline industry, the evidence ... from scheduled airlines is the risk of death is one in 10 million. If you go into a hospital in the developed world, the risk of death from a medical error is one in 300," he said.
Perhaps Donaldson is counting the number of people who die in hospitals, which these days, includes most of us. Otherwise, he's defining medical error in a ridiculously broad way.
The message seems to be that if you want to avoid dying in a hospital, spend as much time as possible flying in an airliner.