Friday, June 30, 2006

A glimmer of hope?

"LEARNING FROM MISTAKES THE BEST WAY TO BETTER PATIENT CARE - by Salma Khalik, Health Correspondent, The Straits Times Friday June 30, 2006"

I was pleasantly surprised to read this editorial in today's newspaper, as it gives a viewpoint which does not damn the doctor, quite unlike previous writings which tend to do the opposite.

This was written in response to a recent case in which an elderly lady died after having been prescribed with the wrong dose of digoxin. This error had not been picked up & at the time, no checks had been in place to prevent this error from happening. This has since been corrected & new systems are now in place to, hopefully, minimise such errors in the future.

She says:
"Who among us has never made a mistake? Doctors to are human, and it is unrealistic to expect them never to make errors.
That is why it is important that system checks are in place as a safety net to catch mistakes."

Big revelation. About time for the public to realise this.

She ends off with this paragraph:
" Singapore has a great public health system. Far from perfect but constantly improving. And it is this willingness to admit mistakes and to learn from them that has led to better patient care.
As patients, that is all we can ask for."

It is indeed optimistic of her to say so, although I wonder whether this is true in practice or not. I have a feeling that the fear of blame is still preponderant enough in our hospitals & clinics to prevent the admission & reporting of medical errors & near misses.

Who knows, maybe this little nudge from the media may prove to be the first teensy weensy step towards a change in the mindset of the medical community where medical errors are concerned.

There is hope yet.

1 comment:

Dr Oz bloke said...

I think the Ministry of Information and the Arts has issued a circular to "advise" journalists on what they should write. Which is why columnists like Salma Khalik suddenly become so apologetic versus polemic.

Read the below :

Voices, TODAY newspaper, Monday, July 3, 2006:

Distorting the truth, mr brown?

When a columnist becomes a 'partisan player' in politics

Letter from K BHAVANI
Press Secretary to the Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts

Your mr brown column, "S'poreans are fed, up with progress!" (June 30) poured sarcasm on many issues, including the recent General Household Survey, price increases in electricity tariffs and taxi fares, our IT plans, the Progress Package and means testing for special school fees.

The results of the General Household Survey were only available after the General Election. But similar data from the Household Expenditure Survey had been published last year before the election.

There was no reason to suppress the information. It confirmed what we had told Singaporeans all along, that globalisation would stretch out incomes.

mr brown must also know that price increases in electricity tariffs and taxi fares are the inevitable result of higher oil prices.

These were precisely the reasons for the Progress Package — to help lower income Singaporeans cope with higher costs of living.

Our IT plans are critical to Singapore's competitive position and will improve the job chances of individual Singaporeans. It is wrong of mr brown to make light of them.

As for means testing for special school fees, we understand mr brown's disappointment as the father of an autistic child. However, with means testing, we can devote more resources to families who need more help.

mr brown's views on all these issues distort the truth. They are polemics dressed up as analysis, blaming the Government for all that he is unhappy with. He offers no alternatives or solutions. His piece is calculated to encourage cynicism and despondency, which can only make things worse, not better, for those he professes to sympathise with.

mr brown is entitled to his views. But opinions which are widely circulated in a regular column in a serious newspaper should meet higher standards. Instead of a diatribe mr brown should offer constructive criticism and alternatives. And he should come out from behind his pseudonym to defend his views openly.

It is not the role of journalists or newspapers in Singapore to champion issues, or campaign for or against the Government. If a columnist presents himself as a non-political observer, while exploiting his access to the mass media to undermine the Government's standing with the electorate, then he is no longer a constructive critic, but a partisan player in politics.