Regardless of the many well-trained and caring healthcare professionals in Massachusetts and across the nation, medical errors still occur. Unfortunately, a deep-rooted healthcare system promoting treatment over prevention often fails to prevent avoidable chronic diseases, impacting wallets and lives. Some may even wonder when failures in treating chronic illness constitute medical malpractice.
Medical malpractice is when medical personnel cause patients harm, injury or death by failing to take necessary action, make necessary treatment or provide adequate care.
The deep-rooted medical culture
According to Uncaring: How the Culture of Medicine Kills Doctors and Patients (Dr. Robert Pearl), medicine focuses on acute treatment with little interest in prevention or long-term management. This is a deadly culture of waiting for diseases to develop before treating them. Yet, estimates claim that 40-80% of some chronic conditions were preventable. A preventative culture would save countless lives and trillions of dollars, but a significant amount of entrenched power, prestige and money is reluctant to make this change.
According to the CDC, chronic illnesses may impact daily living, last for a year or more and require ongoing treatment. Approximately 60% of American adults suffer from a chronic disease, with two-thirds battling two or more. They are often preventable lifestyle diseases, including:
- Heart disease
Chronic disease risk behaviors:
- Poor diet
- Excessive alcohol
In a culture that fails to prevent what is preventable, the harm to public health makes medical malpractice more of an inherent risk. There is a great need for a culture of prevention and improved management of long-term illnesses.