ProPublica Wants to Raise Awareness on Medical Harm

//ProPublica Wants to Raise Awareness on Medical Harm

ProPublica Wants to Raise Awareness on Medical Harm

todays headlinesVoices of Patient Harm

Mesh Medical Device News Desk, May 16, 2016 ~ Please help ProPublica put a face on patient harm. The nonprofit news organization, one of the few that has successfully continued reporting online, continues to explore topics of medical harm and patient safety.

The group reports more than one million patients suffer harm at the hands of doctors and hospitals in the U.S. every year. 

Voices of Patient Harm is the latest project. 

The numbers of patients harmed by mainstream medicine keeps rising. First reported in November 1999 by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) “To Err is Human” concluded there are about 98,000 patient deaths each year from preventable medical errors. The Journal of Patient Safety in September 2013, reported the preventable harm to patients led to more than 400,000 patient deaths.

The San Francisco Chronicle did an extensive report in 2009, Dead by Mistake (which has since disappeared from its website), that found most hospitals and states have failed to adopt the recommended steps in the IOM report to keep patients safe.  One of the steps was a mandatory nationwide reporting system.

In the latest accounting, the British Medical Journal (here) in May 2016 reports medical errors that are not captured by code are not captured. If they were, medical errors would be the third leading cause of death at 251,000 annually in the U.S. conservatively, the data suggests. We spend money on cancer and heart disease but do not even recognize the third leading  cause of death, says researcher, Martin Makary in a radio interview.

That is where good journalism comes in and you can help.
voices of patient harmed


ProPublica, journalism in the public interest, is connecting more than 1,000 stories from patients harmed across the U.S.  Patients feel abandoned and they are not getting the answers they deserve. What’s worse, without acknowledging there is a problem, it is bound to happen again. The first step to correcting a problem is to understand its scope, including medical providers, hospitals and doctors.

Of the 1,000 stories collected so far, surgical, infection and device problems lead the types of harm. Disability and death sometimes result. Many readers of Mesh News Desk already know their injuries are not being acknowledged by their health care providers.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of medical providers and facility didn’t acknowledge the harm done in the reports collected so far.  Overwhelmingly, they do not apologize and the medical establishment does not face any consequences.

The head in the sand approach to medicine does not work.

Summarize your harm for ProPublica survey here.

See the results here. You have a chance to be heard.

Marshall Allen, ProPublica patient safety reporter

Marshall Allen, ProPublica patient safety reporter

Marshall Allen, who covers patient safety for ProPublica tells MND, “The information remains confidential unless people give us permission to share it. If we have permission, we share the patient stories with other journalists who might want to cover these topics or with researchers who want to study the reports from patients who have been harmed. There are places in the questionnaire where people can opt-in to allow us to share the info.”


The Problem

Instead, the majority of hospitals still do not provide patients with information on hospital error.  When the IOM and the Chronicle reports on patient preventable medical harm were issued,  then President Bill Clinton sought legislation requiring hospitals make reports on its errors public.  Instead the American Medical Association and the American Hospital Association opposed the push lobbying to derail it.

Legal settlements require a gag order so details of malpractice are not revealed.  Unlike airline crashes, where there are lessons learned,  medical errors hide behind a wall of silence.


About ProPublica 

ProPublica is a nonprofit newsroom that exists through foundation support, a small amount of advertising and donations. It opened its doors in 2008.

It mission is investigative journalism with a staff of about 45 and headquartered in Manhattan, it serves the public at a time when journalism is suffering in its search for new business models.

Image, Linda Nylind for The Guardian

Image, Linda Nylind for The Guardian

According to its website:

ProPublica is an independent, non-profit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest. Our work focuses exclusively on truly important stories, stories with “moral force.” We do this by producing journalism that shines a light on exploitation of the weak by the strong and on the failures of those with power to vindicate the trust placed in them.

“Investigative journalism is at risk. Many news organizations have increasingly come to see it as a luxury. Today’s investigative reporters lack resources: Time and budget constraints are curbing the ability of journalists not specifically designated “investigative” to do this kind of reporting in addition to their regular beats. New models are, therefore, necessary to carry forward some of the great work of journalism in the public interest that is such an integral part of self-government, and thus an important bulwark of our democracy.” 



British Medical Journal, May 2016, radio interview with Johns Hopkins researcher (here), Responses to article by medical community here

IOM, To Err is Human, 1999 (here)

Institute of Medicine, July 2006, medication errors top 1.5 million a year  here 

Journal of Patient Safety, September 2013, here 

Dead by Mistake, Hearst papers, August, 2009 here

By | 2016-05-16T11:16:07+00:00 May 16th, 2016|Featured|4 Comments

About the Author:

I’m National News Editor, Jane Akre and I began Mesh Medical Device News Desk aka Mesh News Desk (MND) in the summer of 2011 just after the Food and Drug Administration issued an explicit warning to the public that complications associated with surgical mesh used for prolapse repair (POP) and incontinence (SUI) are NOT rare! That was the starting point for the litigation you see today and thousands of lawsuits have been filed by women whose lives have been altered, some permanently, by the use of this petroleum-based product.


  1. Betty S May 17, 2016 at 2:22 pm - Reply

    In 2007 I had pelvic mesh implanted for prolapse and stress urinary incontinence. I slowly started noticing tingling in my feet and legs which slowly progressed. I told my doctor many times about the problem and was ignored. When I was medicare age I saw a spinal surgeon thinking it was my back after MRI’s and nerve test that was not the problem. I then saw a neurologist to help find out the problem test were done and I was diagnosed with MGUS. This is an immune disease that can progress to bone cancer. I was placed on gabapentin with no relief of the burning tingling leg pain that was becoming worse. From the beginning of the mesh being implanted I had butt pain which was also becoming worse. Time for my regular GYN appointment, I had left the doctor that had implanted the mesh. On examination he told me he felt a wad of mesh in my vagina and could feel that it had eroded. I looked at my husband and said “It’s the Mesh” After much research I found the name o Dr Veronikis in St Louis who said he could remove the mesh that was suppose to be a permanent implant. This was March 2014, 95% of the mesh was removed in May. It was very painful and affected my pudendal nerve in the pelvis. I had two babies without epidurals and this was the worst pain I ever had. The pain continued and no doctor other than Dr Veronikis wanted to acknowledge the source of the pain. It was so bad I really don’t remember the rest to the year, I missed 2015 completely. We decided to move to Charlotte NC to be closer to family and better doctors. I had 3 caudal epidurals and go to acupuncture weekly which keeps the pain in control. The butt pain and neuropathy continue and a see a hematologist every six month on the progression of the MGUS. This product needs to be completely removed from the market!!!

    • Jane Akre May 17, 2016 at 2:34 pm - Reply

      I certainly hope you have found an understanding doctor where you are now and a law firm to help you. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  2. Dottie Fuller March 23, 2017 at 5:36 am - Reply

    I had hernia surgery (pig skin) in September of 2016. It’s been 6 months now I have a lump on the left side the doctors says it’s just fatty tissue. oh and get this , it will go away. it might take 18 months but it might go away. I say what about the pain I suffer every day? Some days it feels like I have a rotor rooter inside me, other days I feel like I have a balloon inside me, I try to walk on my treadmill but the best I’m can do these days is 20 minutes. Even then I’m in pain and done for hours after. Grocery shopping I have to take a cart, there is no way I can walk or stand for over an hour. So my question is should I believe my doctor about this bs of fatty tissue and it will go away? Prior to all of this i had diverticulitis, perforated, infected, abscessed colon. open surgery , nursing home for 2.5 months, left overies out, appendix out, 12 inches of colon removed, temporary bag put in, went septic, wound vac . Second surgery reverse bag, third surgery hernia mesh with tummy tuck. Pain oh yes I know pain. I was screaming in pain with this mesh surgery in the hospital. They had to give me Morphine it was so bad. Any advice?

    • Jane Akre March 23, 2017 at 8:09 am - Reply

      So sorry Dottie. We’re not doctors but patient advocate Bruce Rosenberg would understand your situation… 954-701-5094. please try to reach him….. I too would be suspicious about the fatty lump….

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