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Every time I hear a politician rail to the effect that we have the best health care system in the world, and that we shouldn’t tinker with it, I am stunned. We still rank a shameful 38th in the industrialized world in health care outcomes and report 100,000 deaths annually attributed to medical error. We should be doing everything possible to change that.

As for the bogus ranking of 38th, see my recent response and linked article.

As for the "100,000 deaths annually attributed to medical error," this number comes from a nonscientific paper authored by proponents of a single-payer system who wished to denigrate our current health care system. It has no basis in reality. Medical errors will always exist and cannot be completely eliminated. The exact number of deaths attributable to avoidable medical error is completely unknown. Based on my lengthy experience in emergent life-and-death health care, I would guess that it is exceedingly rare.

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