CODE BLUE by Harold Moroson

CODE BLUE

An Exposé of Wrongful Death and Injury in America's Hospitals

KIRKUS REVIEW

A depressing but compelling chronicle of the multitude of mistakes that can, and do, occur regularly at hospitals across America, from a cancer researcher (with help from the man who was Alex Haley’s personal editor on Roots). People have heard enough hospital horror stories, either firsthand from friends and relatives or through headlines, to suspect that hospitals are not always all they’re cracked up to be. What emerges after reading Moroson’s book, though, is wonderment that hospital staffs ever cure anyone at all. Misdiagnoses, medication errors, hospital-transmitted infections, anesthesia blunders—all these and more occur on a fairly regular basis, according to Moroson’s research. Known as “adverse events,” these hospital bloopers result in temporary discomfort in the best-case scenarios and in death in the worst. According to Moroson, of the 34 million patients admitted to hospitals in America annually, 85,000 will die, 16,000 will be permanently disabled, and about 225,000 will suffer a lesser injury due to medical mistakes. And that’s just an educated estimate, because many malpractice suits require the parties to remain silent as part of the settlement. Since hospitals themselves are reluctant to divulge information about their mistakes, Moroson got most of his information from published summaries of malpractice actions, public records of malpractice jury verdicts, family members, and the few federal records concerning hospital safety that exist. Although the book is fairly listlike—Moroson generally opens a chapter with an overview and then lists a number of stories that prove his point—the stories are so incredible that they keep a reader turning the pages. One example: the patient who died after being injected with formaldehyde rather than spinal fluid because no one in the operating room labeled the spinal fluid container once the fluid had been temporarily removed from the patient’s body prior to surgery. Not for the faint-hearted or hypochondriac, this book should be an embarrassment to a profession whose code includes the words “First do no harm.” (30 b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: July 1st, 1998
ISBN: 1-57544-072-5
Page count: 304pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 1998




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