Healthcare in America: For Better or Worse
I cringe when I hear a friend boldly state that “America has the best healthcare in the world.” Granted, we are pretty good at some things but not for others, and the exhoribant and increasing costs of healthcare is a topic for another day.
Over 5 years ago Medicare decided to create a list of preventable medical mistates which occur in the hospital setting, the treatment for which, it would no longer pay for. Those preventable medical mistakes (acts of negligence) are called “Never Events” and include:
- pressure ulcer stages III and IV;
- falls and trauma;
- surgical site infection after bariatric surgery for obesity, certain orthopedic procedures, and bypass surgery (mediastinitis);
- vascular-catheter associated infection;
- catheter-associated urinary tract infection;
- administration of incompatible blood;
- air embolism; and
- foreign object unintentionally retained after surgery.
This policy change by Medicare should have hit the hospitals right where it hurts – in their pocket book – and put a stop to these very harmful, but preventable, acts of medical negligence. Right?
Wrong. Hospitals are still guilty of injuring patients by failing to prevent the “Never Events.” A recent article in the Wall Street Journal reported that a 2012 study by researchers at Johns Hopkins estimated that there are 4,082 malpractice claims each year for “Never Events”—the type of shocking mistakes that should never occur, like operating on the wrong body part. In nearly 10,000 cases studied, which took place from 1990 to 2010, never events led to death in 6.6% of patients, permanent injury in 32.9% and temporary injury in 59.2%.
My Take: The next time someone tells you we have the best medical system in the world, share some facts with the speaker.