Dead by Mistake

I often get asked by friends and family why I do what I do. You have to admit, its a big investment. Not only are you devoting 3 years of your time to law school and upwards of $100,000, you’re also slightly pigeon-holing yourself into a profession. I’m sure that can be said for just about any other profession, but with law, medicine, and I’m sure a few others, you lose that ability to bounce freely between careers. As you move through time, your practice generally becomes more focused and honed.

Simply put, I do it for the victims of negligence. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer ran an article entitled Dead By Mistake. The article explains the myriad of deaths that occur in the health care system simply by virtue of someone making a mistake. Now, I make mistakes, you make mistakes – everyone makes mistakes. Most of the time my mistakes are merely grammatical or spelling errors. It tends to happen when you type a lot. I’m sure one day I’ll make a mistake that cause harm to a client by causing trouble within their case. Unfortunately, for doctors, a mistake can often have tragic consequences.

“So what?,” you may say. “Everyone is entitled to make mistakes.” Sure, but that doesn’t mean that a person isn’t held accountable for their mistakes. The same powers that shout “PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY!” over and over when it comes to a reason why they shouldn’t lend a hand to a homeless man largely fall silent when the same topic is applied to professionals. You hear arguments that to hold these people accountable for their mistakes places a burden on the health care system.

Yes, I’ll admit, it does place a burden on the health care system. A burden of change. A burden to not allow simple mistakes to be made. A burden to innovate so that people don’t die at their hands when the death was entirely preventable. Unfortunately, the only way to press change, it seems, is to make the alternative hurt. If a hospital has to pay for its mistakes, it will invoke change when it becomes cheaper to go through the change than it does to continue paying claims. Hospitals are no different than Ford, making its cold calculated decision of gas tank deaths in the Ford Pinto. The only difference is, there’s not a video-clip with which we can be appalled.

Be appalled.

About Kevin
Kevin Coluccio was recently named one of the Top 10 Super Lawyers in Washington State. He has long history of successful elder abuse/neglect cases and has a stellar reputation for getting results for his injury clients in serious car crashes, pedestrian accidents, trucking accidents, maritime claims, and asbestos injury cases.