health care

Did the Surgeon Leave His Scissors in Your Belly? The Feds Will Help Keep It Under Wraps.

Surprise! The Obama administration gives in to the hospital lobby.

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Dr. Giggles (1992)|||

Hospital Compare, a federal website aimed at helping patients make more informed choices about where to seek treatment, no longer reports on catastrophic medical errors at the facilities it monitors.

So what sorts of mistakes qualify as "hospital acquired conditions," which were wiped from the consumer website last summer, and as of this month also disappeared from the data sets used by researchers? The list includes cases of surgeons leaving sponges in their patient's abdomens, air embolisms (deadly gas bubbles in the blood stream), and transfusions with the wrong blood type. In agreeing to conceal the information, the Obama administration is bending to the will of the American Hospital Association, the industry's lobbying arm.

David Goldhill, author of the terrific 2013 book Catastrophic Care: How American Health Care Killed My Father–and How We Can Fix It, recently wrote about the data cover up for Time:

Is it somehow unfair that the public knows that one airline – Malaysia Air – flew two of the planes in our most recent commercial aviation tragedies? After all, the exact cause of either catastrophe isn't yet known, and it's not clear that Malaysia Air was at fault in either. The airline flies roughly 91,000 flights per year safely; no Malaysian Air flight had been involved in a fatal accident since 1995. Is it really fair to name the airline?

Of course. And yet,

In health care, we still believe that hospitals can kill patients as a result of errors and retain rights to confidentiality. That may help explain why the airline industry grows safer every year, and estimates of deaths from medical errors are now so high they would rank as the third-leading cause of death in America behind only cancer and heart disease.

Read the whole thing.

Give Hospital Compare a whirl. I found the site to be utterly useless in evaluating whether I'd want to be treated at a particular hospital, which isn't much of a surprise given that the federal agency in charge of the site was also responsible for HealthCare.gov.

Certainly the government shouldn't be in the hospital review business, but as David Goldhill pointed out in a recent Reason TV interview conducted by Kmele Foster, the underlying cause of hospital errors is our third-party payer system—patients don't act like discerning consumers because they're not directly on the hook for the cost of their own care.

Watch the interview:

NEXT: Louisiana Tricked a Local Hospital Into Supplying Execution Drugs

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  1. +1 for using a photo from underrated horror film “Dr. Giggles”.

    1. -1 for not using a photo from the “Reanimator”.

      http://www.giantkillersquid.co…..ator3d.jpg

  2. Rank as the third-leading cause of death in America behind only cancer and heart disease

    and

    the underlying cause of hospital errors is our third-party payer system?patients don’t act like discerning consumers because they’re not directly on the hook for the cost of their own care.

    Can we start saying that Socialized Medicine kills yet?

    1. So long as one dollar changes hands for medical treatment that is not paid by the government, it is the unregulated free market kapitalist 1%ers who are at fault.

      1. Just as racists insist that even a single drop of non-white blood makes the person non-white.

        I wonder if they realize they are showing the world that they believe the contaminant is so much more powerful than what they claim is superior.

        Markets are like gravity; they work under even the most miserable conditions. Bribes and other corruption are like scabs and pus repairing a wound. It’s socialism which needs the excuse of failing because it had to come in contact with markets.

  3. But medicine is different!

  4. A friend just posted this article from CNN and people are using this as justification for free birth control from ACA.

    The only counter argument I have for this is the moral one, which isn’t going to fly with the people who don’t agree that the ends don’t justify the means.

    That, and there was an “anonymous donor” that supplied the 23 million for this study showing that it doesn’t necessarily need to be funded through government.

    Also, the IUDs are going to need to be removed at some point, either when they expire or the woman decides it’s time for her to try to have children – so the costs could potentially double in the long run.

  5. the underlying cause of hospital errors is our third-party payer system?patients don’t act like discerning consumers because they’re not directly on the hook for the cost of their own care.

    For a moment I thought this was talking about financial costs, not hospital errors, and I thought it sounded very familiar to the issue of rising college costs. After double-checking the sentence, I think the comparison is still valid. Rising costs and degrading quality resulting from consumers not being on the hook for the cost of the service is happening in both the medical and educational industries. The root cause is the same in both cases.

    1. Submitted too soon. Just one last thought: I wonder what we could learn about the underlying issues with education and healthcare if we compared them too each other?

  6. “The list includes cases of surgeons leaving sponges in their patient’s abdomens”

    That’s the surgical nurses’ fault.

    It’s the surgical nurses’ job to count sponges and needles that go into the patient, however many went in and however many came out.

    Surgeons have more important things to think about than counting needles and sponges, when they’re cutting into your heart or brain.

    …like how the fuck they’re going to deal with all those goddamn ObamaCare regulations.

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