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Blunders will never ceaseHow the media report medical errorsA risky business

BMJ 2001; 322 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.322.7285.562 (Published 03 March 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;322:562

How the media report medical errors

  1. Trevor Jackson
  1. BMJ
  2. BBC Southern Counties Radio

    On the front page of London's Evening Standard of 14 February the face of 3 year old Najiyah Hussain, beside the headline “She was killed by a hospital,” looks the epitome of wronged innocence. The paper's principal focus is the human tragedy of Najiyah and of her family. There has been little time, and little space, for analysis. But we are told: “Police are investigating the incident and a doctor has been suspended.”

    The facts seem obvious. Najiyah, “given laughing gas instead of oxygen,” was the victim of a mistake that you would not expect could happen in a modern health service. A victim, just like Wayne Jowett, who died on 2 February, a month after vincristine was injected into his spine instead of a vein at Queen's Medical Centre, Nottingham. And just like the 74 year old man who died at the Royal Sussex County Hospital, Brighton, after the wrong drug was administered during surgery on 7 February.

    Yet mistakes of the kind that led to such deaths are not as …

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