According to the Institute of Medicine, between 690,000 and 748,000 patients are affected by medical errors in the US every year and between 44,000 and 98,000 die from them. Even this low ball estimate makes medical mistakes the eighth leading cause of death worse than breast cancer, AIDS and motor vehicles accidents. It also makes medicine far more error prone than high-risk fields. For commercial aviation to take the same toll in the US as medical errors do, a full-up 747 would have to crash every three days, killing everyone on board.
More troubling is the medical profession's traditional response to these disturbing statistics, which has largely involved evasion, obfuscation, minimisation, defensiveness and denial....
"Observing more senior physicians, students learn that their mentors and supervisors believe in, practice and reward the concealment of errors. They learn to talk about unanticipated outcomes until a mistake morphs into a complication. Above all they learn not to tell the patient anything." - Nancy Berlinger in After Harm.
Extracted from Being Wrong by Kathryn Schulz