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Tragedy at 30,000 Feet

I have been following the unbelievable tragedy of the poor lady that was killed on the Southwest flight when an engine blade flew into the cabin. I am amazed and gratified the airline industry, and NTSB are moving heaven and earth to make sure this does not happen again.

The Medical Industry Needs the Same Attention

Sully Sullenberger, the hero of the Hudson, has been letting us know for years that preventable medical mistakes are the third leading cause of death in the United States. 200,000 to 400,000 people die per year from preventable errors. “It is the equivalent of three airline passenger planes crashing a day without survivors,” Sullenberger says. If there were that many deaths from airplane crashes, he says the industry would shut down, and there would be a presidential commission. No one would fly until it was safe again.

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Why Do We Ignore It?

Medical errors happen individually. They do not occur one airplane full of people at a time. Airplanes reach the core of our fear. Getting on an airplane is scary. We see doctors and go to the hospital on a regular basis, and we do not realize how much harm can be done. We also strongly believe that it will not happen to us. We believe we have more control over our own health. It is not until a loved one or we are injured from a preventable mistake that we start to pay attention.

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What Do We Do

We must be committed to making a difference. As lawyers it is not enough, to get a quiet settlement for our clients. As an injured person, it is not enough to say, “Let’s get whatever settlement we can, and I will agree to a confidentiality clause.” At the very beginning, we have to say; we are going to make a difference. We are going to change things. The first condition of any negotiation is we must fix the system that got me hurt. After that, we can talk about money.