How Common Are Medical Errors? A Horror Story

In this post a contract artist who calls himself Wolverine gives a long list of life-threatening medical errors that happened to him. I hope that he will eventually add dates so that the rate of error becomes clearer [more: all the errors happened within a 14-month period] but even without them the stories suggest that life-threatening errors are common. (As does the effectiveness of surgical checklists.) Medicine is a job where if you make a mistake only the customer suffers not you. Surely this is why the error rate is so high. Wolverine was operated on by a surgeon who, because of a fatal error, had lost his license to practice in California. He changed states, was hired again, and made the same error on Wolverine.

I learned about this from Tucker Goodrich, who has been corresponding with the author and told me something remarkable:

He’s eating a paleo with raw milk diet.  The other transplant patients he knows are all eating the modern American diet and dying of infections; he’s been infection-free for two years.


6 Replies to “How Common Are Medical Errors? A Horror Story”

  1. I had a surgeon who lost his license in one state for stealing drugs from the hospital and taking them himself. He moved to my state and performed surgery on me. It was botched, and a few weeks later he was arrested for writing prescriptions to friends and taking the drugs himself. His license was suspended for a short time and he is still in this state practicing.
    I had to have another surgery. The problem was then fixed.

    I would say the medical doctor lobby is strong.

  2. I’d say that drinking raw milk may well have saved his life several times.

    The natural good bacteria in raw milk is vastly underrated when it comes to its health giving properties to us humans.

    I can add that having consumed it for several years now I have yet to have any kind of cold/flu or infection from cuts etc. Before that I would have a yearly or twice yearly bout of cold/flu, and yes this is the only thing that has changed in my diet.

  3. Hi Seth,

    I was wondering whether I can ask you an unrelated question! I know you said that eating breakfast sometimes causes early awakening as it did in your case. Would this apply to a cup of tea with a handful of nuts – like if I take that some time after waking but skip any other food till lunch? I am trying to experiment with this (following your method!), but would be glad to know your opinion/experience.

    Seth: I think early awakening can be caused by any calorie source. That includes nuts but not tea if you have it without cream or sugar.

  4. Apparently the problem is global, because in Brazil the same or worse. Announced this week on TV Globo, a fake doctor who did care within a hospital, but before his arrest held several consultations as a doctor, an absurdity, and medical error is not uncommon these days.

  5. The story above is really a horror story. I always joke that I have been nearly killed three times by medical professionals. These incidences were similar in nature (but not scope). The first time was when a doctor I had never seen before tried to discharge me ( I had already been given pain medication so was a bit out of it) before I had an xray that subsequently showed a bowel obstruction. Second time was a nurse who tried to give the incorrect dose of steroid medication. Had to fight to get the correct dosage. Third time was when a consultant wanted to do a camera endoscopy on me, despite my insistence that I had a history of obstructive disease and narrowing of the intestine and that this investigation was contraindicated in my condition (confirmed later by his superior). I refused to have the investigation. It is exhausting trying to get the appropriate care – but if you have to interact with the medical profession, it is wise, as the author says, to have someone there to advocate for you. Thankfully I was in a position to fight for myself, but only because I understood what I was being treated for and had educated myself about my condition both through my own research and constantly pestering the doctors for information. Curiosity did not kill this cat.

  6. I agree heartedly with the above comment. It is of utmost importance to make every necessary effort to understand your condition and constantly pestering the doctors for reliable information.

    There are some nice outstanding doctors. Take the time to find them. I had parathyroid disease and for those who have similar condition here is a team of surgeons who did revolutionize the cure of it and do really the best job in the interest of their patients.

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