Dr. Howard Cohen spent nearly 30 years as an infectious disease physician in Atlanta. He treated people with everything from the flu to malaria. He was a highly respected doctor, recognized in his field. But about a decade ago, Cohen made a mistake that he has never forgotten. And he doesn’t want to forget.
Over the next few months, thousands of fourth-year medical students will apply to residency programs across the United States. On average, each of them sends 10 to 20 applications — hoping to find the post-graduate training of their dreams. On average, program directors receive about 2,000 applications, letters of recommendations, medical school transcripts and other documents through the Electronic Residency Application Service. But because most programs have only 15 or 20 slots to fill, directors must turn away far more hopefuls than they accept.
A study in the current issue of the Journal of Patient Safety looks at people who receive some type of preventable harm when they go to a hospital to receive care. The new study estimates that each year, 210,000 to 440,000 such people are harmed sufficiently that it contributes to their deaths. That's why reducing fatal blunders is a prime goal of medical educators.