Airline safety is remarkable. USA Today reports that US airlines did not have a single fatality last year, the third year out of the last four with no air travel deaths. And that’s with U.S. carriers flying more than 10 million flights and hauling more than 700 million passengers.
Our automobile transport system isn’t that safe. And how about our medical system? Sure, many deaths can’t be prevented by medical science, but wouldn’t it be great if we were to read a headline sometime soon that reads, “Medical System Documents a Year with No Preventable Deaths” or “No Wrong Site Surgery in 3 of the Past 4 Years”?
Airlines can do this, as there is a system in place for measuring and reporting. The American medical non-system doesn’t even have a mechanism in place for assessing how many deaths, wrong site surgeries or other major safety issues occur, much less a system for reporting the number or a systematic approach to achieving 100 percent safety.
We may be heading in that direction, though. Data collection and dissemination continues to get easier and less expensive. If we can start a website that lets all patients rate their satisfaction with all doctors, we should be able to create reliable safety reporting system.