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Pilot preaches on medical error wrongful death risk

Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger is the hero pilot that saved the passengers and crew of a plane that crashed landed on the Hudson River in 2009 after a flock of birds destroyed the plane's engines shortly after takeoff. This successful emergency landing was touted as textbook perfect by many in the airline industry, and many credit the pilot and his in-depth knowledge for saving many lives.

While after the crash, Sullenberger traveled the country to share the experience of his crash, he is now promoting awareness of an issue separate from aviation accidents. His new cause: preventing medical malpractice, which some estimates say kill approximately 200,000 people each year.

While tens of thousands of people die because of avoidable medical mistakes, few people actually die each year in plane crashes. The number of deaths from medical malpractice might be astounding, but the issue is given little attention. Sullenberger believes that if the same number of people died in plane crashes, there would be a ground stop on air travel until the problem was addressed.

The airline industry and governments around the world have worked hard to minimize the risk of air travel, and it is now one of the safest modes of transportation. However, policies that could help prevent medical malpractice incidents are pushed aside for political reasons or lack of awareness. Sullenberger hopes that if more people stop to think about the numbers, action will be swiftly taken. People who suffer from medical malpractice mistakes might survive with very serious complications, or their family members could face lifelong repercussions, both emotional or financial.

Source: 

Politico, "'Miracle' pilot on mission against medical errors," Kyle Cheney, Aug. 1, 2013

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