leading bioethicist urged hospitals not to cover up their mistakes,
but to study them, in the first Richardson Memorial Lecture
at the Medical Center
of hospitals' errors and problems "may provide a starting
point for a more proactive approach to improving patient care
and improving medical education," said Dr. Mark Siegler,
director of the Center for Clinical Ethics at the University
of Chicago, considered a pioneer in his field.
outlined a handful of studies of medical mistakes and discussed
a study that he and a research team led of 1,047 surgical patients
at the University of Chicago. The study's non-clinically-trained
observers identified 2,183 "adverse events," suffered
by 480 patients (46 percent); some 185 of the events were termed
"serious," resulting in temporary or permanent disability
study found three factors associated with a greater likelihood
of suffering adverse events: age (the older the patient, the
more likely an error); intensive care unit stays; and length
of stay (for every day in the hospital, there was a 6 percent
increase in the likelihood of a mistake). Gender, race and who
pays the bills were not factors, the study found.
though health care providers fear legal liability for their
mistakes, only 13 patients studied (1.2 percent) filed malpractice
claims, he said.
very fact that mistakes were studied is significant, said U.Va.
Medical School dean Dr. Robert M. Carey. "It's really the
opening up of an area that's very difficult to uncover,"
expressed the hope that Siegler's talk would spark further discussion
at the University Medical Center about how to address mistakes.
annual lecture series, presented as part of the Humanities in
Medicine program's weekly Medical
Center Hour, was endowed by Dr. Donald R. Richardson, a
Charlottesville dermatologist, in memory of his late mother.
The lecture series is intended to urge health care providers
to develop closer relationships with their patients.
need to progress, to bring the subject up over and over again,"
Dr. Richardson said. "We need to bring it into the mindsets
of medical students, interns and residents."