Suck it up, America! Why are doctors becoming slaves to patient satisfaction scores?
Great discovery request, there Perry Mason. Michael J. Trentalange, a Florida medical malpractice lawyer, requested 75 years of incident reports before having his colonoscopy performed at Florida’s St. Joseph Hospital. He wanted to know “how many people [at the hospital] get perforated colons during colonoscopy” before having his own procedure done. Oh, and by the way, he’s also representing someone who died from sepsis after sustaining a perforated colon.
He didn’t limit his request to just colonoscopies, though. He wanted every single incident report in the hospital. Why? His response: “I could have a family member contemplating another procedure.”
The hospital sued him over his request. More doctors and hospitals need to fight back against BS like this. And people wonder why lawyers get a bad rap.
Phil Howard from Common Good scores an article in the Wall Street Journal about “Why Medical Malpractice is Off Limits” in the health care reform debate. Does it have anything to do with the fact that trial lawyers are “amoung the largest contributors to the Democratic Party”? One interesting quote:
Trial lawyers also suggest they alone are the bulwark against ineffective care, citing a 1999 study by the Institute of Medicine that “over 98,000 people are killed every year by preventable medical errors.” But the same study found that distrust of the justice system contributes to these errors by chilling interaction between doctors and patients. Trials lawyers haven’t reduced the errors. They’ve caused the fear.
We can’t sue our way to better health care.
Another interesting tidbit from the upcoming book “Architects of Ruin” regarding why tort reform isn’t part of health care reform. Several trial lawyers filed a class action suit against Citibank for rejecting a black woman’s loan application. The basis of the suit was that “racial bigotry, not poor credit histories, explained high rejection rates among minorities applying for mortgages.” Four years later, the case settled. The plaintiff received $60,000. The lawyers received $950,000 – more than 15 times as much money as the plaintiff. Among the lawyers receiving those fees was a young gent named Barack H. Obama.
Paging Dr. Scumbag … An emergency department physician steals a Presidential Rolex watch off the wrist of a patient who had just died from a heart attack. Busted by hospital security cameras and fired on the spot. Also indicted by a grand jury for the theft.
Who is at fault? A patient gets sedated for brain surgery and waits on the table for the neurosurgeon … who is out of town attending to an “urgent family situation.” The head of the department refused to do the surgery in his place. Among the things that the hospital and doctors are getting cited by JCAHO for is “the doctors operating did not pause to stop and check that they were operating on the right part of the body.” Was there some transrectal approach to brain surgery that I didn’t learn about?
Insurance doesn’t equal access. Another study out about the Massachusetts “insurance for all” program shows that “unless access to health care improves, many people will continue to treat emergency rooms as a substitute for a primary care doctor” and that “access problems in the community may play a significant role in ED use in Massachusetts.” Sounds like a plan. Let’s replicate this on a national level. Just what we need as more emergency departments close nationwide. Cue grandpa talking to grandson … “Yeah, sonny, I remember back when we only had to wait 9 hours to see a doctor in the emergency department.”
A powerful article in New America Media giving personal examples of how the richest country in the world can’t provide for the care of its citizens. What’s the answer?
Grady Memorial Hospital shuts its free dialysis clinics. Ninety patients in the program have nowhere to go. Many of the patients are illegal immigrants. Now the hospital is trying to ship the patients to other states so that they can get the dialysis they need. Hospitals can only provide free care for so long. A sign of things to come.
That’s why we call them “patients.” Canadian Health Minister Maureen MacDonald encourages people in Dartmouth General Hospital to “be patient” as the government “emergency room adviser” figures out how to solve the apparently recent development of hospital overcrowding. Here’s a hint: Step one is to bring a good book with you … maybe two.
Interesting point on the health care reform debate in Maine’s Kennebec Journal. The US fares poorly in the “quality of care” categories such as infant mortality and life expectancy, but the US does very well in success of medical treatment. Additionally, according to the WHO, the US is ranked highest among all countries in “responsiveness” of health care – how fast patients receive the care they need. Don’t foresee that statistic being favorable much longer.
Today there’s a double feature. Head over to ER Stories to see the Swine Flu version of the HealthCare Update.