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C. Rare Medical Errors Often Overshadow More Common Cases

Narrator: This is Science Today. Medical errors are common and serious occurrences, yet the ones that get the most attention are the ones that are most rare. Dr. Seth Landefeld, chief of geriatrics at the University of California, San Francisco, reviewed medial error discussions at hospital conferences and describes the rare cases.

Landefeld: Mrs. Jones is supposed to get the surgery and they take in Mrs. Smith instead or something - those happen once in a blue moon, extraordinarily rare. I think the things that we're often much more concerned about are just the ones that happen more frequently. Where, we might have been able to do a better job of something, that the wrong dose of a drug was given, diagnosis is missed. Those are the sorts of things that are more common.

Narrator: Landefeld's study found there's not enough discussion of medical errors during weekly hospital review conferences.

Landefeld: These conferences are phenomenal learning opportunities and one way to get people to be more open and to learn is for the person who is sort of the leader to say - "oh gosh, something like that happened to me once and this is what I did to avoid it in the future."

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.