Historians still argue about the authorship of the ‘Errare humanum est’ (Humans tend to make mistakes) expression, which later became winged. Some believe that it was first uttered in the V century BC by Greek poet Euripides. Others argue that Cicero, who once said, ‘To err is human, but the one persisting in errors is a fool’; another popular remark mentions the doctors of antiquity, who used to say that medicine is the history of human errors.
Talking about human mistakes and errors is difficult, especially when it comes to health care services. Nevertheless, there is no sphere of activity, where the issue has been studied as thoroughly as in medicine. This is due to the fact that the consequences of the doctor’s mistake are especially serious and may lead to a disability or even death.
The reasons behind errors can be either objective or subjective. The first type is mostly associated with diversity of views in the treatment of certain diseases. The therapeutic complex of measures, which was previously considered to be the most efficient, from the point of view of modern scientific approaches can be regarded to as incorrect. It also comprises errors made by doctors in their interaction with patients by virtue of non-compliance with basic deontological principles. Any doctor is not free from professional mistakes, just like any representative of any specialty. However, due to the peculiarities of their profession, their work acquires an increased social significance. A pilot error, resulting in the death of hundreds of people at the same time, for some reason, is treated as a ‘human factor’. Maybe this is due to the peculiarities of the profession.
People trust doctors according to established tradition unconditionally. One will hardly doubt the doctor’s point of view, until it is not something that involves the client’s decision (typically, serious cases). And such a patriarchal attitude is sometimes going sideways.
A sapper can be wrong only once, the doctor – never. However, according to unofficial statistics in the developing countries every third diagnosis doctors set incorrectly. The results of pathological data collected in four major hospitals in Moscow, showed that 21.6% of the diagnoses made throughout lifetime were wrong. In one of the five cases ascertained pneumonia was not confirmed in the process of time, while diagnostic errors as for malignancies amounted roughly 35%. For comparison, in the US the proportion of medical errors is estimated at 3-4% level, in the UK – 5%, in France – 3%. According to the reports gathered from medical negligence solicitors aggregators, in the UK the medical errors result in lethal outcomes in nearly 70,000 of cases, while in the US clinical negligence takes the lives of 50,000 – 100,000 people annually. In the US, medical errors is the 5th leading cause of death in the country: every 15 minutes because of medical errors or negligence of medical personnel die 5 patients. According to the Spanish Association of victims of medical malpractice (the country has a mainly public healthcare system) over the past 10 years about 5,000 patients died because of malpractice.