Forty-four thousand hospital patients died due to medical errors last year in America, according to Dr. William Richardson.
"This is something we really need to get a grip on," Richardson said. "We need to improve safety and quality for the patients."
Richardson, the chief executive officer of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and president emeritus of Johns Hopkins University, lectured Monday afternoon in Corwin Pavilion on the state of healthcare in the United States.
Richardson spoke of the changes in healthcare relationships and the degree of organizational rearrangements Americans might need. He discussed medical errors such as illegible handwriting and botched prescriptions and what can be done to try and prevent these errors.
Richardson said the results of the patient-death study ranked medical errors as the 8th leading cause of death in America.
"For many years, it has been assumed that whatever errors that have occurred was because of impaired practitioners, physicians, nurses and others, but this is not the nature of the problem here. Fundamentally, it was the system’s problem; the problem of a culture within institutions that did not lend itself to a safe environment," he said. "We need to tackle these problems. We recommend that we have a mandatory reporting system to track these problems down, and take immediate reaction to fix them."
Richardson listed a number of methods in redesigning the healthcare system, such as rapidly expanding knowledge and advancing in information and technology.
"In order to accomplish all of these things, we need self-organization," Richardson said. "Care should be based on continuous interactive relationship between the patient and the practitioner, customization systems should be designed having time available to clinicians, patients should be given necessary information and there should be an idea of cooperation among the clinicians."
Richardson’s lecture was part of the Tanner Lectureship, a nonprofit corporation established in 1978 to advance and reflect upon scholarly and scientific learning relating to human values. The University of California is one of only nine institutions in the world to have an established Tanner Lectureship.
"We are proud to welcome our distinguished guest speaker Dr. Richardson, who is a leading expert on health policy issues," Chancellor Henry Yang said. "I just wanted to say how pleased we are as the University of Santa Barbara to be this year’s host for the entire University of California’s Tanner Lectures."
Though Richardson brought with him an extensive medical background, some students in the audience disagreed with parts of his lecture and said he left many topics untouched.
"I think Richardson lacked some information. I think there’s a really big need to look at the immigration establishments. These problems are much more complicated than the things he has mentioned," sociology grad student Anna Sandoval said.
"I thought it was a good lecture but it doesn’t hit the problem. Instead, it’s going around it," senior sociology major, Isidro Pineda said. "I think it really starts in medical school. The future is going to lie on how well-structured medical schools are. These people are putting their priorities over their patients. I think he could’ve shown more statistics and where he got them from."