Medical Mistakes Did Not Just Arrive in 2020; Patients Suffer From Them Routinely

6 Jun 2022 Watch the full episode and view show notes here:


Marty Makary is a surgeon, public policy researcher, and author of the New York times best-sellers Unaccountable and The Price We Pay.

In this episode, Marty dives deep into the topic of patient safety. He describes the risk of medical errors that patients face when they walk into the hospital and how those errors take place, and he highlights what amounts to an epidemic of medical mistakes.

He explains how the culture of patient safety has advanced in recent decades, the specific improvements driven by a patient safety movement, and what’s holding back further progress.

The second half of this episode discusses the high-profile case of RaDonda Vaught, a nurse at Vanderbilt Hospital convicted of negligent homicide after she mistakenly gave a patient the wrong medication in 2017.

He discusses the fallout from this case and how it has in some ways unraveled decades of progress in patient safety.

Furthermore, Marty provides insights in how to advocate for a loved one in the hospital, details the changes needed to meaningfully reduce the death rate from medical errors, and provides a hopeful vision for future improvements to patient safety.


We discuss: -Intro [0:00:00]

-Brief history of patient safety, preventable medical mistakes, and catalysts for major changes to patient safety protocols [3:00];

-Advancements in patient safety and the dramatic reduction in central line infections [16:45];

-A surgical safety checklist—a major milestone in patient safety [26:00];

-A tragic case stimulates a culture of speaking up about concerns among surgical teams [28:00];

-Studies showing the ubiquitous nature of medical mistakes leading to patient death [32:30];

-The medical mistake of over-prescribing of opioids [36:30];

-Other types of errors—electronic medical records, nosocomial infections, and more [38:00];

-Importance of honesty from physicians and what really drives malpractice claims [43:15];

-A high-profile medical mistake case involving nurse RaDonda Vaught [50:15];

-Investigations leading to the arrest of RaDonda Vaught [1:02:30];

-Vaught’s trial—a charge of “negligent homicide” [1:08:00]; -A guilty charge and an outpouring of support for Vaught [1:15:00];

-Concerns from the nursing profession over the RaDonda Vaught conviction [1:21:00];

-How to advocate for a friend or family member in the hospital [1:23:15];

-Changes needed for meaningful reduction in the death rate from medical errors [1:29:30];

-Blind spots in our current national funding mechanism and the need for more research into patient safety [1:34:30];

-Parting thoughts—where do we go from here? [1:38:30]; -More.


2 Responses to “Medical Mistakes Did Not Just Arrive in 2020; Patients Suffer From Them Routinely”

  1. Occams says:

    In 2011, a doctor mixed two powerful antibiotics after a procedure and I ended up with antibiotic colitis.

    I explained to them what was going on. I was told that ”no one else has ever reacted like this”, and it was probably “just in my head”.

    The ‘doctor’ got on the phone and told me to take Imodium.

    So I checked.

    THAT could have – literally – killed me.

    A follow up visit a few weeks later shocked them when they saw me.

    They swore they would take care of me, do all they could. They did the absolute minimum. The cardiologist treating my NOW afib condition said they know they need to do an ablation, “but they don’t want to pay for it”.

    At the end of 1 year, they kicked me to the curb, after dragging out the last cardioversion for weeks – as to ‘run out the clock’.

    Turns out, I had a HUGE malpractice case – but the window to file is 1 year.

    Spill hot coffee on yourself from McDonald’s, it’s 3 or 5 or 7 years to file, and get millions.

    My attorney just tried to get them to do ONE ablation. Continue where they left off.

    So, left untreated for 5 or 6 years (‘pre-existing condition’. No insurance), I finally have had 10 or 12 cardioversions and 2 ablations.

    Been in terrible afib for 2 years now. Nothing I can do. ‘We’ cannot compete with the covid-hoax payout, so here in So Cal, I MUST swab or vaxx to go in (they’re seeking the $8000 payout for a false-positive), so looking into Arizona where they stopped all this nonsense – but I have to pay for my gas, room, and the entire out-patient procedure out-of-pocket.


    • ian says:

      Not really any better in the UK Occams, however it’s paid for by your National insurance contributions, so in effect is free. There are other downsides though. A lot indeed most of the better Doctors prefer to go private as it’s better money, the same with regions of Britain, some are more attractive than others. It’s easy to end up in the care of people who don’t care. The only good thing is that this is as good as it gets, it’s downhill from here.