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.