I Know Bad News …

I know bad news when I read it. I am furious with pols of all stripes that almost 50 million citizens of earth's richest country have no health insurance. I'm furious that the "medical establishment" continues to focus on fixing broken things (you and me) rather than on prevention and wellness. But all that pales by comparison to my outrage at our biggest and most intimate industry (health care) ignoring the ABCs of quality control. Yesterday's news included a report from Denver-based HealthGrades, which revealed that between 2000 and 2002 there were 195,000 hospital deaths per year in the U.S. from preventable medical errors, making such errors (the equivalent of 390 jumbo jets a year going down fully loaded) the 3rd leading cause of death in the U.S. behind heart disease and cancer. Earlier studies, such as one in 1999 from the Institute of Medicine, had pegged the number at a mere 98,000 per year (only 200 or so jumbos worth). To be sure the math is equivocal and the results controversial (particularly in the med establishment, not so keen on having its foul laundry aired in public), but by any measure the number is a disgrace. Key word: preventable.

Comments included in the Boston Globe report I read:

"This should give you pause when you go to the hospital."—Dr Kenneth Kizer, National Quality Forum.

"There is little evidence that patient safety has improved in the last five years."—Dr Samantha Collier