According to a Johns Hopkins study — led by Dr. Martin Makary — medical errors are one of the highest leading causes of death in the United States. These numbers remain high because some doctors work under a code of silence, taught to hide errors in order to avoid accountability. If patients complain, they can face being dumped by their physician.

We need to close this gap immediately. We can accomplish this by revising our current protocols for errors. We need to offer better medical training for preventing or managing errors and if necessary a support system for physicians. We need to create a community not of silence and shame, but one instilling that uses safety nets. In the ever-growing development of technological advances, this should get easier as time passes.

As patients, we can do our part by self-advocating for our own health. Get second opinions and do not be afraid to follow up with questions about what medications or treatments you are placed on. A doctor who ignores your questions or treats you trivially is unethical.

Not all errors are because doctors are inherently bad, or incompetent. I would like to believe that most doctors go into medicine because they are, in fact, inherently good. But there is no place for the disturbing closed-door culture of American medicine anymore.

Melanie Simms, 

Selinsgrove

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