Monday, June 30, 2008

The Operation Was A Success, But The Patient Died

Four million people were admitted to California hospitals last year. That's a lot of people. And of those 4M, 1,002 cases of serious medical harm were disclosed by California hospitals between July 2007 and May of this year.

Officially, these cases are called Adverse Events. They are also referred to as "never events," because they should never happen. In California, patients are being seriously injured at a rate of 100 per month.

Examples range from technicians placing a CT scan of one patient into the electronic file of another. The result: physicians removed the wrong person’s appendix; to nurses giving incorrect medications (unprescribed medications) causing death. The father of one of my co-workers went to have a fairly simple operation; during surgery, his kidney was perferated causing infection. The original operation was a success, but the patient died.

In California, Insurance Companies are considering not paying Hospitals for these accidents. Yet Hospitals are for-profit businesses; I wonder if we will be forced to pay extra for these non-services? Pay in advance and take it up with our insurance companies later (if we survive at all?)

Did the woman who died from the wrong medications have to pay a co-pay on those medications? Who covers her bill? On the wrong appendix, did he have to pay out of pocket for a surgery he didn't need? Because his insurance probably didn't cover him for this bit of cutting and sewing - it hadn't been pre-approved.

Our system is broken on so many levels, not the least of which is patient care, that I cannot begin to cover it all. I am mad as hell. Beyond angry, I am appalled at rising costs and sinking care.


D.K. Raed said...

We are lousy with health care. It's bad enough to get sick, but then to be mistreated, by accident or otherwise, is far worse. It violates the basic Hippocratic tenet of "first do no harm".

I'm beginning to think my grandma was right about hospitals. She had a death-fear about them, always telling me she would never go into one because that's where you go to die. She managed to stay out of one until she was 86 & died 3-days after admittance.

I had a good friend in the 1980's go in for a simple surgery & come out with a staph infection so bad it killed him. In the 1970's I had another good friend die after dental surgery (something about the anesthesia & his heart, a 20-yr old healthy-as-a-horse heart). Another friend is in total kidney failure right now due to a doctor repeatedly misdiagnosing her failing kidneys as a "pulmonary infection". It took him 8-months of prescribing antibiotics & even ordering a colonoscopy before he ordered a simple kidney blood panel. She is on dialysis & waiting for a kidney transplant (another broken system is the organ transplant system).

So I'm with you Diva -- mad as hell & appalled. If this is the way our health system treats people fortunate enough to have health insurance, imagine what happens to those unable to afford medical care at all?

an average patriot said...

ust think that is one state. The system is broken period. I did a couple posts because of my own ER nightmare but we often make mistakes like leaving things in taking off the wrong limb, the wrong lung, disease and death because of the hospital, etc. We can not function on a good day. God forbid a real disaster and we are screwed! We do not have enough of anything from top to bottom. I'll shut up!

FranIAm said...

Tragedy heaped upon tragedy, all with the reckless disregard of the way humans were meant to treat one another.

Those who cry for "culture of life" ought to try practicing it, by making sure that we get it.

Bad politics and the corporatocracy have left us in this hole, I long for and work for a day we will emerge.

DivaJood said...

DK, when my cousin had her hip replaced, all over the other hip they'd written in marker: NOT THIS HIP. And when I was in my 20s, I worked in a hospital - there was an orthopedic doctor who drank a bit - he was constantly setting the incorrect bones - a mess.

Jim, I'm not sure if it is simple neglect, or greed, but the system is fucked up.

FranIam, I agree, the corporatocracy has taken greed to a new level. We have to change it, from the foundation up.

Stella said...

Bottom line: the system is so fucked up, I don't know where to start. And those damn Repukes. If they'd given Hillary Clinton the opportunity to reform health care in the early 90s, we might be in better shape now.

I'm not a big Hillary fan, but I had a great deal of respect for her dedication to cleaning up the health care system. We spend $.21 on health care for each tax dollar compared with $.43 on war. Veterans are separate at $.03.

Can you believe this White House crap? We spent only $67.2 billion in 2006, a 1% decrease from 2005. And there's little to no oversight as to how the money gets spent.

Every year, health care expenses, including good management, is cut. To show such lack of regard for the people you serve (yeah, right...) can only be termed a sociopathology coupled with full-blown narcissism,

I can't write anymore, except to say, I agree divajood... whole heartedly.

DrDon said...

"Adverse events" reminds me of George Carlin. I can hear him saying, "We used to call them 'medical mistakes' and now we call them 'adverse events.'"

This is why I do not understand the fear of universal health care in this country. I mean, this is the system we keep trying to protect? Accidents happen and they happen all over the world but when hospitals, doctors, and nurses have to worry so much about the rules of various insurers, getting reimbursed, and getting approval from procedures, it distracts them from focusing on the real work.

Having one central payer, the government, I believe would really help the system. They could save money by not having to employ legions of people simple to wade through the morass of inconsistent insurance policies and procedures and they could focus on actual health care. Would there be abuses in the system? Yes. But there are abuses now.

People don't want their taxes to go up but I say what difference does it make if you raise my tax rate by 2% to give me health insurance or if I have to pay $500 or more a month to a private insurance company? Either way, I'm paying for it. I'd rather have an extra percent of two taken out of my check, earmarked only for the nation's health care fund, and then never have to see a bill or deal with a health insurance company for the rest of my life. That woul dbe worth more taxes to me. No more Medicare "donut holes" or any of this other bullshit.

It is absolutely unacceptable that this country has the health care mess that it does. We like to think of ourselves as the greatest nation but you simply cannot justify feeling that way if you look at our awful health care system.

Blueberry said...

Humans are the only ones who will suffer from those policies. Hospitals will shake off the "not getting paid for mistakes" business with little impact. And insurance companies... look around and who has the most luxurious office towers? Insurance companies (usually). They will never take responsibility. Odd policies for an industry that's supposed to take responsibility (isn't that their function?).

Randal Graves said...

The free market will fix everything.
Or drown you in a bathtub. Oh, not me, my health care is fine.

Love, Grover

blueberry covered it. Everyone gets to shirk responsibility. Except the person fucked by the responsibility-less.

DivaJood said...

Stella, there was such a lovely photo in that White House report,of the wise Black Doctor and the adoring Black Patient. Yikes. Obviously they spend money on models.

drdon, People don't want their taxes to go up but I say what difference does it make if you raise my tax rate by 2% to give me health insurance or if I have to pay $500 or more a month to a private insurance company? You have hit the nail on the head. Why do people fear this? We are all paying anyway. The answer, of course, is greed.

Blueberry, years ago, when I was newly married, I had an entry level job in an insurance company. Had I stayed, I could have been in one of those Ivory Towers AND a rich Republican. Talk about a wasted opportunity. AAAARRRGGGG.

Randal, I think I'm in the drowning in a bathtub mode - health care is absolutely sinking me. And I could have been a rich Republican.

Rain said...

I agree it's a problem. I don't know an answer either. So much is possible in health care and so much can go wrong with no explanations. We have to be informed on what we are being prescribed or taking as often nobody will warn us of side effects. Years ago I was told don't take aspirin and Ibuprofen on the same days by a pharmacist. A friend of mine recently had never been told that by anybody. So much information and all conflicting.

Border Explorer said...

Diva, thanks for yet another great post. What more can I add? Our health care system is a mess and a disgrace.

On another subject, you've received the Arte y Pico Award for blogging excellence. Can you stop by my blog to pick it up? eProf explains it all on his blog posted 6/27/08. Congratulations!

DivaJood said...

Rain, solutions are there, but we have to be willing to take those steps. Single payer health care, for starters. Stop over-testing, over treating, over medicating. But as long as Insurance and Drug Companies call the shots, we're screwed.

BE, thank you. I am so honored!

Stella said...

I don't know if we're too far gone, but there are some politicians watching out for us.