Patient Safety

What Can Be Done about Medical Errors?

By Michael Wong, JD (Founder/Executive Director, Physician-Patient Alliance for Health & Safety) and Nicholas Wong (Director, Patient Safety Analytics, PPAHS)

Editor’s note: This article was first published in TheDoctorWeighsIn. It discusses recent research showing that medical errors constitute the third leading cause of death in the US and the need to develop high reliability in hospitals.

A new study published in the British Medical Journal by Martin A Makary, MD, and Michael Daniel, MD (both from the Department of Surgery at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine) estimates that more than 250,000 deaths due to medical error occur in the United States alone. Read More

Top Median Malpractice Payments
Opioid Safety, Respiratory Compromise

3 Lessons for Preventing Death and Brain Damage in Newborns and Their Mothers

Can death and brain damage in newborns and their delivering mothers be prevented?

This is the question Michael Wong, JD (Founder and Executive Director, Physician-Patient Alliance for Health & Safety) asked at the recent conference 15th Annual Advanced Forum on Obstetric Malpractice Claims.Speaking on the panel discussion with Mr. Wong were: Read More

Opioid Safety, Respiratory Compromise

Did an Opioid Overdose Kill Prince?

As the world of music mourns the passing of Prince, the media’s attention has shifted to speculation around the true cause of the Purple Prince’s death.  Official channels from the pop singer’s side have cited complications due to the flu; TMZ tells a different story – one that implicates opioid-related overdose as a cause.  This is not a cliched story of superstar overuse for recreation.  Rather, the Percocet in Prince’s possession has been reported to have been prescribed to treat hip pain.

While the truth will be revealed with formal autopsy, the dangers of opioid-related adverse effects are not limited to overdoses on private jets.  There are real risks for real people. Read More

Opioid Safety, Respiratory Compromise

Dentistry and Death: More Laws or More Education?

By Michael Wong, JD (Executive Director, Physician-Patient Alliance for Health & Safety)

Editor’s Note: Last week, we asked whether the use of birth control is a patient safety risk because of possible development of blood clots. In this post, the question is – do we need more laws or more education to help prevent anesthesia-related deaths in dental procedures and oral surgery.

Most people would not associate dentistry with death – discomfort perhaps – but not death.

However, the death of Caleb Sears forces us to consider the possibility of death in dentistry – or, more accurately, oral surgery:

Caleb Sears was a healthy six-year-old living in the Bay Area. He was in his first year of elementary school and just starting to read and write. He loved playing with his little sister, climbing trees, singing Les Miserables, and making up funny stories about llamas and time machines. Read More

Must Reads, Opioid Safety, Respiratory Compromise

2 Lessons from the Death of 9-Year Old Solomon Womack from Tonsillectomy

MSN reports in a recent article, “Boy, 9, Dies After Undergoing Routine Tonsil Removal” that “Solomon Womack of Milwaukee was pronounced dead Friday, according to the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office. Days earlier, he’d reportedly undergone a tonsillectomy.”

As CBS Milwaukee reported, the 9-year old “was given a dose of Oxycodone, then sent home. Later that evening, Solomon’s parents gave him another prescription dose of Oxycodone and noticed about an hour later that he was having trouble breathing. The parents called 911, and the boy was brought to Children’s Hospital. He was pronounced brain dead days later.” Read More

Alarm Fatigue, Blood Clots, Must Reads

Are We Doing Enough to Prevent Patient Deaths? – Weekly Must Reads in Patient Safety (Feb 5, 2016)

Two patient deaths – one from alarm fatigue and one from a blood clot – make us stop and ask, “Are we doing enough to prevent patient deaths?

Death from Blood Clots

The Evening Post recently reported:

A teenage mother-to-be and her unborn baby were tragically killed by a DVT blood clot – just hours after finding out she was expecting a healthy boy.

Scarlett Holyoake, 18, was six months pregnant when she suddenly died from deep vein thrombosis after collapsing in her home.

Read More

Opioid Safety, Respiratory Compromise

Lack of Prescriber Opioid Knowledge May Lead to Adverse Events or Death

A recent survey shows that a lack of knowledge of opioids among medical students, residents, and attending physicians could lead to adverse events or death. The survey was conducted at the anesthesiology, surgery, obstetrics and medicine departments at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.

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Respiratory Compromise

Respiratory Compromise Institute Calls for Proposals on Respiratory Failure Leading to Critical Illness or Death

The Respiratory Compromise Institute (RCI) today called for proposals to conduct a structured literature review or meta-analysis of various clinical conditions that pose a moderate to high risk for the development of respiratory failure leading to critical illness or death. The request for applications can be found by going to

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Must Reads

Death After Surgery – Weekly Must Reads in Patient Safety (Dec 11, 2015)

A recent study published in The New England Journal of Medicine concludes that there are too many patient deaths within 30 days of major surgery and many of these are preventable.

Dr. P.J. Devereaux, principal investigator, observes:

Almost no one now dies in the operating room or recovery room, but after surgery there is still an appreciable death rate.

Read More