A different planet

A different planet

A front-page Wall Street Journal article describes how complex software is causing glitches on modern airliners and the steps manufacturers and airlines are taking to fix the problems. The safety culture and record of the airline industry is sometimes cited by advocates of improved patient safety. But with all the problems, are airplanes really that much safer than hospitals? Absolutely.

Get this:

In North America, there were 1.3 crashes per million departures in the late 1980s. By 2004 and 2005, the average figure was about 0.4, meaning the chance a plane now taking off will crash is less than one in two million.

Can you imagine a safety record like that in health care? Major and minor errors occur all the time, and the equivalent “crash rate” is orders of magnitude higher than one in two million.

May 30, 2006

2 thoughts on “A different planet”

  1. What is a crash in healthcare terms? US populatin is roughly 300,000,000 and there are well under 1 million deaths annually contributed to medical errors. That’s .3% death rate right there. If you counted every interaction a person has with medical care including every day they take a pill etc the death rate has more zero’s then I care to type. If you include every time my plane is late because something is broke or acivated a warning light then your over 30% with the airlines. When considering death you are far more likely to die from an encounter with an airplane then you are with medical care, no matter which way you look at the numbers.

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