Hearst Newspapers has finally discovered that doctors make mistakes. Check out their latest collective project, Dead by Mistake, to witness journalism’s most recent boondoggle. The project’s site profiles stories of medical error for public review. From Mother bleeds to death after delivery to From a broken leg to a vegetative state, it’s all there.
Any patient who suffers the complications of a medical intervention is a tragedy. But how Dead by Mistake is newsworthy isn’t clear. This sensational repository of error serves to create fear, apprehension and unnecessary suspicion in the public eye. Perhaps it’s the charge of kicking an already battered group of professionals. Maybe it’s schadenfreude for a generation that feels disenfranchised by the medical profession.
But Hearst is late to the party. I might suggest that the gaggle of journalists roped into this project grab a copy of Atul Gawande’s Complications. The physician as less-than-perfect is old news. And e-patients knew long ago what the old media is just figuring out: To err is human and you’ve gotta do your homework.